Kerala: Opposition Stages Walk-out from Assembly Over Illegal Felling of Rosewood Trees in Wayanad
The Kerala Assembly on Tuesday observed noisy scenes over the recent mass felling and smuggling of centuries-old rosewood trees. It came from a tribal village in Wayanad district. Opposition UDF accused the Left government of shielding the culprits and staged a strike. The opposition asked how the smugglers could pack the timber from the northern district to a sawmill in Ernakulam.
They also often asked whether Forest Minister A K Saseendran had any contact with the culprits behind the crime. Reportedly accused in several other cases, at any stage. P T Thomas claimed that over 40 cases registered with the illegal tree felling at Muttil village.
The Forest Department was yet to be ready to recover the smuggled rosewood timber from the accused, he further charged. The culprits had high-profile connections. He also restated the opposition demand for a High Court-monitored inquiry into the incident.
Rubbishing the charges, Saseendran said protecting forest resources is the goal of the government. “The government will never try to protect or help anyone involved in looting forest resources. Stringent measures will be taking in the issue,”the minister said. a charge report would be submitted to the court at the earliest after completing the inquiry.
Revealing the government order was misused for felling the trees illegally, he said. Total of 101 rosewood trees, worth around Rs 10 crore in the market, were found missing from the village. He also admitted the opposition charge of failing on the side of a forest official in Wayanad in the tree felling incident.
Two persons had sought permission to pack the timber from the village. But the department refused nod for the same, the minister said. It was later shifted to a sawmill at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam, Kerala. The forest officials recovered the wood and registered a case against the culprits, he added.
Speaker M B Rajesh refused leave for the motion based on the government reply. The opposition members performed a strike claiming that looters were thriving in the state.