Thrissur: The Vigilance court here on Tuesday has ordered an inquiry into allegations of corruption involving six forest officials in Peechi, Pattikkad and Ponganamkadu forest ranges over the smuggling of trees worth several crores of rupees from Manamangalam and Pattikkad forests last year.
The complainant alleged that the forest officials including a ranger teamed up with the forest mafia and many trees were chopped down and smuggled to saw mills with the help of local politicians. Vigilance inquiry was ordered against officials including Pattikkad forest range officer M.K. Ranjith. People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL) district president T.K. Vasu had moved the court demanding an inquiry. Court said prima facie there was a scope for probe.
“Leaders of a prominent political party had taken as many as 12 ‘accused’ in the case to surrender at a forest office. Except a person named Cherumkuzhi Byju every one was let off from the station. Byju was then taken to different saw mills by forest officials including Ranjith and K. Sivan where he had confessed to have taken the chopped trees. Later, he escaped from the Forest custody and was found dead under mysterious circumstances near his house,” Mr Vasu said.
Crime Branch has already started an inquiry into Byju’s death. Police had found that he committed suicide. “But, it has aroused doubt that why all the other ‘accused’ who surrendered before the cops were let off and no action was taken against any of the saw mills,” Vasu noted.