Karadukka: A film crew, who got permission to shoot inside the Parthakochi forest here, left behind tons of trash and sand inside the reserved forest. Though most of it has been removed, the remaining garbage strewn across the forest could create problems for wild elephants and others. Wooden pieces with iron nails that could pose serious threat to lives of wild animals are among the trash left around.
When the shooting completed, and the place was handed over to the forest department on December 7, garbage had piled up in several areas of the forest. They included tons of plastics and even beer bottles. Structures built using sand were left behind. There were huge piles of sand at several places and a temporary road (150x 3 ft) built using sand. All these were left behind despite the contract making it clear that the film crew had to clear up all their mess. The section forest officer mentioned all these in detail in his inquest report.
The forest department had given permission for the shoot on the condition that the crew will have to remove the sand they plan to dump in the forest to make roads for the shoot. But the cine team never bothered to clean up.
It is alleged that the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) came in person to remove the garbage after the forest range officer recommended a probe against the culprits. The range officer too visited the area to take stock of the situation and recommended action against those responsible. After this, it is alleged that the DFO himself turned up with workers and partly cleaned up the area. But lots of plastics and sand are still left behind in several areas.
No case yet
Instead of filing a complaint, the move of the DFO to directly get involved in removing the trash has generated suspicion, it is alleged. If the contract norms are broken, a case has to be filed. According to norms, the amount deposited by the film crew for granting permission can be used to restore the forest to its earlier condition and a bigger amount can be sought from them if need be. What raises the hackles is the fact that a senior official involved directly to help the film crew.
The controversies arose right from the time permission for the shoot was flouting norms. As per rules, permission for a film shoot can be granted after charging a fee. But no activity that could destroy the forest could be carried out. Flouting this rule, the DFO gave written permission to bring sand into the forest.
When additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF) informed about this, he ordered the withdrawal of the permission. However, the DFO himself issued an order a few days later cancelling the shoot. A week later, the film crew again granted permission. But this without the knowledge of the APCCF.
It is alleged that there intervention from the top to get this done. Meanwhile, range officer Anil Kumar, who had objected to the illegal activities, transferred to Attappadi. The transfer a clear indication that top officials had intervened in the matter, it is alleged.