Is it another plantation scam coming to the fore?
Information provided in reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act indicates to a large scam in the plantation done by the forest officials of Maharashtra. To compensate for trees felled under forest working plan, the plantation of trees is taken up in a massive scale by the forest department. The data indicates major irregularities leading to a likely financial misappropriation of over Rs. 54 lakh in Nagpur Circle in 2012-13. After site inspections of the three ranges Hingni (Wardha), Paoni (Nagpur) and Nakadongri (Bhandara), the chief conservator of forests (CCF) T K Choube has reported these irregularities to the state government. It has been revealed that huge amount was charged on account of plantations by making incorrect entries in measurement book and no actual work was carried on the ground.
Irregularities were reported in the Nagpur circle last year too for which three range forest officers (RFOs) were charge-sheeted though the department did not share the charge sheet and enquiry report with an applicant who wanted the copies under the RTI Act. The Nagpur Circle CCF S H Patil is looking into the matter and has informed that prima facie the errors did not seem so severe but are being looked into.
Reports of large-scale anomalies in plantation works around the country have raised a concern about the seriousness with which the forest department is taking up the projects related to regeneration of forests.