Forest dept sits on report indicting RFO

The irregularities were established an year ago through a probe by an higher official.
The investigation report by Assistant Conservator of Forests S J Chandrashekar has brought to light the illegal granite mining undertaken by Antarasanthe RFO A V Satish in the limits of the Taraka backwaters of the national park, violating the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

But the Forest department has not initiated any action against Satish.
High-level officials had ordered a probe following newspaper reports in January, 2010. Spot inspection and information collected by Chandrashekar from the department staff had established Satish’s culpability.

Showcause notice

Also, Satish himself had admitted to the charges. Satish has also not replied to the showcause notice served on him.

In this connection, necessary action can be taken against him, Chandrashekar said in his letter to Deputy Conservator of Forests Vijayranjan Singh.

The issue came to light through an RTI application filed by environmentalist Yashas.
Rocks were blasted using explosives for constructing an elephant-proof trench (EPT) under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by the Gram Panchayat. The rocks so blasted were converted into stone slabs in the forest itself.

This is an offence in Nagarahole, which has been declared a sensitive tiger reserve. No permission was taken for such non-forest activities from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

Also, unhindered entry of workers had been allowed inside the national forest on the pretext of the stone-cutting work.

Safety of reservoir

The Taraka reservoir is just half a kilometre from the spot where the rocks were blasted. The activity could have jeopardised the safety of the reservoir.

Blasting the rocks could also have affected the wildlife too.

The reservoir is one of the few waterholes in the national forest for the animals in summer.

It is natural for animals to be inconvenienced by the blasts and the movement of people.

“The Forest department takes action if poor forest dwellers take away a few logs of wood. The chief minister had to resign due to the illegal mining taint. Then, why is the officer allowed to go scot-free for illegal mining,” asks Yashas.

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