Former revenue minister behind tree felling order; evidences come to light
Thiruvananthapuram: Some evidences proving that the controversial tree felling order was issued on the direction of former revenue minister E Chandrasekharan have come to light. The evidences show that then minister had instructed the revenue secretary to issue the order. Even the warning of officials against cutting the trees that come under royal category was neglected.
It was the minister who made it clear earlier that one should seek advice of the law department and the additional AG before issuing the order to cut the trees in revenue land. But the files prove that the minister received no legal advice regarding issuance of the order.
The farmers in Kuttampuzha forest region had sought permission for cutting the trees which they planted. Following this, the forest minister convened a meeting on June 27, 2019. The department was not against cutting the trees which the farmers planted. But they made it clear that the trees that belong to royal category such as sandalwood, rosewood and teak cannot be chopped.
Following this, a meeting was convened under the leadership of revenue minister in September 2019. However, the stand on cutting royal trees was maintained in this meeting also. The decision to amend the land assignment rule to let the farmers cut the trees which they planted, was taken in the same meeting.
A note forwarded by the then minister Chandrasekharan on October 25, 2020 has come to light now. It was directed to issue an order to override the law against cutting royal trees. It also instructed that there is no need to seek permission of anyone to chop trees and that action should be taken against the officials who stop tree felling.