‘Changes made due to administrative and personal reasons’
The rejig of the special investigation team (SIT) probing the nearly ₹200 crore illegal tree felling case in the State has run into a fresh controversy with one forest official, who was reportedly instrumental in digging out the case in Wayanad, being shunted out of the team and another one assigned the work at a place of his choice.
P. Dhaneshkumar, Divisional Forest Officer (Flying Squad Division, Kozhikode), who was earlier heading the investigation into the “felling and transport of government trees (reserved species and reserved trees)” from assigned patta land since March 11 this year, in Thrissur and Ernakulam has been removed from the post for “administrative reasons.”
He has been replaced with Baiju Krishnan, Divisional Forest Officer (Flying Squad Division, Punalur).
Mr. Dhaneshkumar will now assist the Conservator of Forest (Inspection and Evaluation), Kottayam, for the investigation in Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts, according to an order issued by Ganga Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance and Forest Intelligence).
A. Shanavas, the Divisional Forest Officer (Flying Squad Division, Thiruvananthapruam), who was originally assigned the responsibility of the Kannur, Kasaragod and Wayanad was shifted to Idukki and Kottayam reportedly on his request.
While Shantri Tom will look into the felling of trees in Kasaragod, Kannur and Wayanad, Raju K. Francis will cover Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad and C. P. Aneesh Pathanamthitta, Alapuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts. The team leaders have been asked to file their reports before June 22.
The department has also asked Saju Varghese, the Divisional Forest Officer (Flying Squad Division, Kothamangalam), to assist the Conservator of Forest (Inspection and Evaluation) to probe the cases in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Alapuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapruam districts.
As many eyebrows were raised over the rejig of the investigation teams, Mr. Singh said changes were made due to administrative and personal reasons. Some officers were shifted after considering their personal request and some others on administrative grounds. Speculations regarding the reasons for transfer were baseless, he said.
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