Panaji: The forest department has initiated disciplinary
proceedings against its range forest officer, John Fernandes, and placed him
under suspension with immediate effect, for alleged mass destruction of
arecanut plantation in forest land at Verlem, Sangini in Sanguem taluka.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had
held a meeting with affected farmers and government officials, in this respect,
last month, and had ordered an inquiry into the matter.
The Verlem Sangini villagers had alleged that the forest
department officials had cut around 435 arecanut plants planted in a private
property. They had called it a case of atrocity against tribals and demanded
the suspension of forest department officials and action against them under the
Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.
Responding to the direction of the Chief Minister,
principal chief conservator of forests Santosh Kumar on Thursday vide an order
stated that a disciplinary proceeding against Fernandes is contemplated/
pending related to alleged destruction of arecanut plantation in Netravali
The order further states that during the period of
suspension, the headquarters of Fernandes shall be Panaji, and he shall not
leave the said headquarters without obtaining the permission of Santosh Kumar.
Fernandes will also be paid subsistence allowance, during
the suspension period, which shall be 50 per cent of his basic pay and
allowances as admissible.
Source:: The Navhind Times