IFS officer to probe felling of trees in Corbett

  • The state forest department has also asked the bureaucrat to probe the role of forest officials in the matter and submit a report within two weeks, the officer added.
The Uttarakhand forest department has also asked the bureaucrat to probe the role of forest officials in felling of trees in Corbett.(HT_PRINT)
The Uttarakhand forest department has also asked the bureaucrat to probe the role of forest officials in felling of trees in Corbett.(HT_PRINT)
Published on Nov 06, 2021 01:32 AM IST
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ByNeeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Uttarakhand forest department has directed Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi to probe allegations of illegal constructions and felling of trees in Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), an officer aware of the details said on Friday.

The state forest department has also asked the bureaucrat to probe the role of forest officials in the matter and submit a report within two weeks, the officer added.

“I want this matter to be investigated properly so that action can be taken against the officers responsible. So, I issued an order on November 2 in this regard. I have directed him (Chaturvedi) to investigate the matter and find out who did what and when and with whose permission,” principal chief conservator of forests Rajiv Bhartari said.

Chaturvedi, who is working as chief conservator of forest at Haldwani, had made headlines during his tenure as chief vigilance officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, from 2012 to 2014, when he investigated around 200 corruption cases, according to news agency PTI.

Winner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2015, the civil servant has unearthed a spate of corruption cases in public offices. He also stopped illegal construction inside Haryana’s Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary in 2009.

On October 27, the Uttarakhand high court ordered the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change and the state’s top officials for forest and wildlife to investigate the alleged illegal construction and illegal felling of trees in CTR.

The court’s order was based on an October 22 report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which said that forest officers may have forged government records to allow illegal construction of roads and buildings in the reserve.

The committee described the illegal construction in CTR an excellent example of “administrative and managerial failure”, recommended vigilance inquiry against Uttarakhand forest officers and recommended that the Union ministry take strong action against erring forest officers.

Subsequently, the state government on October 29 directed Bhartari to take appropriate action in the matter.

Supreme Court lawyer and wildlife activist Gaurav Bansal, who moved court, alleged the matter involved more than 150 crores as government funds were utilised for illegal construction.

“The NTCA’s report clearly says that work has been done without financial sanction,” he alleged, adding that there is an urgent need to investigate why funds were used for illegal purposes.

Bhartari said he cannot comment about the financial irregularities alleged by the advocate and that Chaturvedi will investigate them.

The court, meanwhile, sought an action taken report from NTCA by November 9.

Bansal said he had earlier approached the Supreme Court, which subsequently constituted a Central Empowered Committee to probe allegations of illegal felling of thousands of trees in Pakhrau tiger safari, and construction of structures and water body in Corbett tiger reserve landscape.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021