Verdant Kodagu at the mercy of smugglers, poachers

Thanks to the State govts unique transfer policy of five forest officers

The State government’s ‘unique’ transfer policy has made Kodagu district’s pristine forests highly vulnerable to the threat from timber smugglers and poachers.

For, all the five forest officers there have been transferred without replacements. The district’s green patches are still under the scanner of Apex Court as well as the High Court following rampant anti-forest activities. A matter related to tree felling order by G A Sudarshan, then DCF during the year 2006-2007 in Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Patti Ghat and Anekalathmale Reserve Forest areas is pending before the High Court.

A second one pertaining to illegal road construction in Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Kadamkal Reserved Forests is looked upon by the Supreme Court as a serious violation.

But despite several warnings by the Courts, the State government seems to be apathetic about this as all the five IFS officers (4 DCFs and a Conservator) have been transferred without any replacement.

Following the transfer of Sudarshan, former Conservator of Forests, Kodagu over his alleged nexus with timber merchants, his replacement Virendra Singh, who has been transferred now and the reliever G S Yadav is yet to come. DCF Virajpet, Suryadev Singh who had a fight with an RFO in a guest house in Bangalore has been mover out and DCF Rangegowda, who was incharge of Forest Mobil Squad was given additional charge of DCF Virajpet.

Under compulsion

DCF Wildlife Anil Kumar Pathak, who was instrumental in preventing the illegal construction of road in the forest by ZP Kodagu in December 2008 by antagonising K G  Bopaiah MLA, Virajpet, Appachu Ranjan, MLA, Madikeri and S G Medappa, MLC and others has been transferred to Kolar hardly after taking over as DCF Wildlife, Madikeri. Forest department sources said the top brass in the department compelled him to handover charge to ACF and report to his new place. The recent transfers of B B Mallesh, DCF territorial, Madikeri and DCF Forest Mobile Squad too have been relieved and replacement are yet to arrive. 

Ecologists expressing the concern over the violations in the region say that the Kodagu being a sensitive place needs immediate protective measures before it becomes an open invitation to timber mafia and corrupt forest staff, who are the agents of forest destructors.

“Pushpagiri is already in the news. The Central Empowerment Committee team has already inspected the place were unhappy with the violations over there. The Forest department has filed an affidavit saying it is illegal and will take action against the erring officials. It has admitted that there has been a violation of forest conservation of Act,” informs Anu Chengappa, Counsel for Kaveri Sene, which has moved the HC against the felling order. Wildlife experts say the region being a dense forest with several schedule on animals like tigers, elephants, lion-tailed macque and king cobra, the State needs to handle this sensitively by posting hand picked officials of high integrity to ensure protection.

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