Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 31 July 2021 10.51 AM IST

Tree felling controversy: CPI defends its ministers; Pinarayi tightens stance


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CPI, which was put on the defensive in the Muttil tree felling controversy, decided to protect its Revenue and Forest Ministers in the previous LDF government. With the CPI adopting the stance that the next steps should be decided by the government, the ball is now in the court of the CPM and Pinarayi Vijayan. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister reiterated yesterday that strong action should be taken against those who misused the order.

The CPI, which is adamant that the order issued by the Revenue Department on October 24 last year was not flawed, reached an agreement yesterday to fully protect former revenue and forest ministers E Chandrasekharan and K Raju. CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran on Monday called on two former ministers and current Revenue Minister K Rajan was also called to the party headquarters for a discussion. Binoy Vishwam, a member of the party's national secretariat, also took part in the discussion. During the discussion, the leadership confirmed that there were no irregularities on the part of their ministers.

The former revenue and forest ministers had met several times before issuing a controversial order allowing the felling of trees other than sandalwood on land assigned under the Land Registration Act. Pinarayi will now face the task of taking political action in the controversy involving the departments of the then CPI ministers. '

In the wake of the controversy, the CPI has left the decision regarding the farmers' tree felling' needs to the government. Explaining that the decision was taken after discussions at various levels since 2017, Kanam Rajendran and E Chandrasekharan said that no one should try to attack the CPI alone in the controversy.

"All parties were part of this. Many of those who have now come down with the allegations are not even aware of how many types of title deeds are there. If there are guilty officers, let action be taken. That is why the government has decided to conduct a strong investigation," the CPI leadership stated.

Will take strong action: CM
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that strong action would be taken against those who looted timber under the guise of an order to help farmers. The demand of the farmers is reasonable. The decision was made in consultation with all parties. It was found that there was a lapse in implementing the order. The law department also pointed out some shortcomings. Based on this, the order was withdrawn. There will be uncompromising action against the culprits, the CM said. He also said that the government will decide on the follow-up action on the farmers' demand.

Collectors to calculate number of trees

After receiving instructions from the Revenue Principal Secretary, Land Revenue Commissioner directed the District Collectors to calculate the number of trees cut down in each district under the cover of the controversial order. The report should be submitted within a week. The order, which was issued on October 24, 2020, was cancelled on February 2, 2021, after it became controversial. The number of trees that have been cut down during this period and the number of passes issued by the forest department for this must be collected. The Collectors will also have to collect the number of trees present in the regions before and after issuing title deeds.

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