Case filed against Vodafone, 7 forest officials suspended

Bhopal: Seven forest officials including a Ranger have been suspended and a case was registered against a multi-national telecom company for laying cables without permission in two wildlife sanctuaries of Obaidullahganj forest division in Madhya Pradesh.

"Seven forest officials were suspended yesterday for negligence of duty as it was found during a probe that the Vodafone Company had undertaken illegal digging and cable laying work in Ratapani and Singhori Wildlife Sanctuaries between August and October this year," official sources said here today.

Besides, show-cause notices have also been served upon the Superintendents of Ratapani and Singhori Sanctuaries - R K Dixit and C S Dubey on November 23, they said.

The state government took action against these officials on a complaint lodged by an environmental action group "Prayatna" with the Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Sartaj Singh last month besides, the Prime Minister and Union Forest Minister, sources said.

Following the complaint, Chief Conservator of Forests of Bhopal Dr A K Bhattarcharya had recommended suspension of these officials on November 30 on the basis of a report given by the Divisional Forest Officer of Obaidullahganj Forest Division after conducting a probe, they said. A case has been registered against Vodafone Essar

South Limited Company under relevant sections of Forest Conservation Act, sources said.

Earlier, the Prayatna member, Shehla Masood obtained documents through Right to Information Act which showed that the Vodafone Company had undertook the work in the protected areas of two Sanctuaries without permission from forest authorities, sources said.

The documents also showed that the company was given permission to lay cable outside areas of both Sanctuaries till Ghat Pipalia only, they said.