Exposing the involvement of some forest officials in red sanders smuggling, two forest employees were arrested on Wednesday for letting off a vehicle laden with the precious logs at a forest checkpost. Two other smugglers were also arrested by the officials.
The arrested forest officials have been identified as - R Siva Kumar, assistant beat officer and D Obaiah, checkpost watcher- both deployed at the Mukkutippa checkpost (Kammaapalem checkpost) in Kaluvai mandal.
According to DFO N Nageswara Rao, on July 7, the forest beat officers and flying squad team were on a vehicle checking duty at Dam Road on Rapur-Nellore road when they noticed a Tata Safari coming at a high speed towards Podalakuru. The officials tried to stop the vehicle but the driver sped past the checkpost. The forest officials chased the vehicle which overturned at Manubolu railway crossing. Officials seized 27 red sander logs from the vehicle and also apprehended two persons - SK Ali and M Vasu.
During investigation, the officials discovered that the duo loaded red sander logs at the Gonupalle forest area and at the Kammapalle checkpost. They also bribed the two forest department officers - Siva Kumar and Obaiah to evade vehicle checking. The forest staff accepted `10,000 from the smugglers and shared the amount.
Based on the confession of the two smugglers and an investigation on their own, forest officials arrested the two forest staffers on Wednesday. The arrested were remanded to judicial custody till July 23. The DFO Nageswara Rao said all possible sections including non-bailable sections would be invoked on the erring officials and they would be terminated from service.