The forest official has been asked to explain the circumstances in which the permission was granted.
Kerala would tread with caution, the issue regarding the reported permission granted to Tamil Nadu for the felling of 13 trees in Mullaperiyar, said Forest Minister A. K. Saseendran.
Speaking to media persons here on Sunday in the background of the Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, reportedly permitting Tamil Nadu to cut down the trees for strengthening the baby dam in Mullaperiyar, Mr. Saseendran said he was awaiting a report from the Forest officials. The forest official has been asked to explain the circumstances in which the permission was granted.
Incidentally, Kerala had earlier repeatedly turned down the request of Tamil Nadu for the cutting of trees in the area.
“I understand that the Kerala Chief Minister came to know about the issue when he received a thanks giving note from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin,” he said.
“To the best of my knowledge, neither the Chief Minister not his office was in the know of things. The Chief Minister, who was briefed about the developments, has suggested to handle the issue carefully,” Mr. Saseendran said.
With the news of the State permitting Tamil Nadu to axe the trees coming out, the Opposition leaders criticised the government of failing to protect the interest of the State in the issue in which a protracted legal battle is being waged in the Supreme Court.
According to Mr. Saseendran, Kerala enjoys a very cordial and friendly relationship with the neighbouring State of Tamil Nadu. Hence, the issue needs to be handled in a careful manner. The Forest department will decide on the future course of action in consultation with the Kerala Chief Minister, he said.
Regarding the reported tree felling permission issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Mr. Saseendran said the officials should have taken a decision only in consultation with the Ministers concerned as a policy decision was involved. In the normal course, the forest officials concerned can decide on applications for felling trees. However, this was a case related to Mullaperiyar dam and the government should have been consulted in the process. The government may order a probe, if required, after obtaining the preliminary report from the Forest official, he said.