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 Wildlife Sanctuary.
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.