Sunday, Nov 23, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Presenting an 11-minute video film containing visuals of the cleared forest area where plantain cultivation was on, he told reporters here today that the tree felling had been facilitated by the Forest department officials and Government Pleaders who had colluded with private individuals.
The officials and Pleaders had helped private individuals clear large tracts of dense forests by not handling the related court cases properly. The Government should immediately investigate their role in the affair and initiate stern action against those found guilty, he added.
Mr. Achuthanandan said that the person mainly involved in the plunder of the Silent Valley forests was once a village official in the Agali panchayat and involved in the sensational Muchikundu forest plunder scandal of the 1980s. This had happened because of the Government failure to defend its case effectively.
In effect, he gained control of 92.22 acres of thick forest tract forming part of the Silent Valley on account of the laxity of the Forest and Law departments and the Government, he said.
Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that if the Forest Bill, now awaiting approval from the Governor, was notified, it would result in areas where plantain and arecanut are cultivated by the former village official go out of the definition of `forest' and become irrecoverable.
Mr. Achuthanandan said that he had written to the Governor urging him not to approve the Bill.
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