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Karnataka government Forest Scam

Reward the corrupt.Punish the righteous.This has been the ‘philosophy’of the Karnataka government,especially when it comes to promotions and transfers in the forest department.

Recently, the BJP government transferred a conservator of forest (Vijay Kumar Gogi) and a DCF (Biswajit Mishra) from the Bellary division. Their crime—Seizing 30 trucks which were illegally transporting Rs 100 crore worth of ore from the reserve forest. Even more blatantly, allegedly at the behest of the thriving mining lobby, it posted a conservator of forest (Manoj Kumar Shukla) who has a Lokayukta inquiry against him. His commendation—giving duplicate permits for mining. Strangely, Gogi has been left high and dry. “Gogi did a magnificent job in reducing mining activity in Bellary. He recovered ore worth Rs 100 crore only to be discarded by the government. To pile on his agony, it hasn’t given him a posting yet,” a forest official said. “By doing so, the government has sent out a wrong signal to the officers in the department. They would rather close their eyes and let miners and poachers have a field day,” the official added.

Manoj Kumar isn’t he only blue-eyed boy of the B.S. Yeddyurrappa government. Take the case of conservator of forests, G.A. Sudarshan. He has five inquiries against him for giving permission to illegally fell 2450 trees in the Madikeri division. He had disdainfully violated a Supreme Court order (IA 548 in WP202/ 1995) which had banned tree felling in protected areas.

Based on the report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which assessed the damage wreaked by Sudharshan’s high-handedness, governor Rameshwar Thakur had suspended the errant officer in April 2008. Despite his dubious record, the government, allegedly at the insistence of Virajpet MLA G.A. Bopaiah, reinstated him in the Madikeri division, much to the chagrin of senior officers in the department.

In another startling shuffle, the government transferred deputy conservator of forests, Dr R. Raju from the Chamarajnagar division. Reason—he had dared to recover encroached forest land from powerful estate owners, including the Birlas and the TVS group. Instead of applauding an officer who had recovered vast tracts of forest land, the government rapped him on his knuckles, packing him off to the social forestry division in Kolar. As an afterthought, it posted him to the Bandipur wildlife division. “The government should not transfer officers without consulting or taking the heads of departments into confidence.

Hopefully, this government will correct itself and do better than the ones before it, so that administration runs smoothly,” said former PCCF S Parameswarappa, who had confronted Chief Minister S. Bangrappa, when he chose to violate the Forest Act. “When people of dubious record are posted in critical habitats, their interest will be to make money. You can’t expect them to protect the forest and its wildlife. “Honestly, when the BJP government came to power we hoped that things would change for good. But it has disappointed us. Only the label has changed. Otherwise, it is old wine in old bottle, said K.M. Chinnappa, a former range forest officer who took voluntary retirement allegedly due to political harassment .


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