Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan has sought a judicial investigation or an investigation under the supervision of the Kerala High Court into the felling of rosewood trees in the State.
Speaking to the media on Thursday after visiting the sites in Wayanad where trees have been cut in large numbers, Mr. Satheesan said the United Democratic Front (UDF) would oppose any government move to protect those involved in the crime.
The former Forest and Revenue Ministers cannot absolve themselves of the crime, Mr. Satheesan said adding that the UDF was planning to launch a State-wide agitation demanding to bring the culprits before the law.
“A team led by T.N. Prathapan, MP, will visit the illegal tree-felling sites in Thrissur and Palakkad and another team led by Benny Behanan, MP, that in Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta,” Mr. Satheesan said adding that they would lay bare the gravity of the issue before the public.
Alleging a conspiracy, he claimed the crime was abetted by the State government. The government cannot escape from the scandal by suspending a village officer as the trees were cut with the active support of the Revenue Department, Mr. Satheesan said.
He also criticised Communist Party of India State secretary Kanam Rajendran, who he claimed was supporting the timber mafia.
The looting was done in eight districts under the cover of a government order issued on October 24, 2020 and it was withdrawn after three months when the mission of the mafia was accomplished, Mr. Satheesan said.
“As the trees were cut allegedly with the approval of the Chief Minister and other Ministers, the government was trying to protect the timber mafia by registering cases against farmers and tribespeople,” the Leader of the Opposition said.