The environmental and social organizations here have come out strongly against alleged attempts by some top functionaries of the Government in sabotaging the take over of lease expired and violated forest land in Nelliampathy Hills.
In a joint statement in Palakkad on Tuesday they have said that “there was a consensus by both the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) that all lease expired and lease violated forest land in Nelliampathy will be taken over by the Government.”
During the UDF government’s previous term four such Estates were taken over. During the period of the last LDF government Thuthampara Estate was taken over. After the present UDF came to power four Estates were taken over out of the total 26 Estates that were proposed to be taken over for violation of lease conditions and the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the statement said.
But after the take over of the Shernelly Lower Estate in December 13, 2011, the High Court in its order on December 16, 2011 directed that the Estate can be taken over only after the hearing. So they should be given one month time. Thus Shernelly had to be returned, the statement said.
The Forest Department requested the Government to go in appeal against the single bench order. Even after six months of the judgment no action was taken. The legal advice given to the Forest Department was that there is no scope for going against this one month notice verdict, the Environmental organizations said. Because of this the take over of the 23 other Estates are hanging in balance involving more than 4000 acres of forest land in Nelliampathy, they said.
They said that the Forest Department had sought Government sanction to cancel the lease of seven Estates - Monkwood (232.82 acres); Rajakkad (288.85 acres); Karapara-A (541.37 acres; Karapara-B
(Kairali-577.12 acres); Shernelly Lower (278.80 acres); Alaxandria-A, B and Brookland (1019 acres) and Beatries – 33.86 acres.
Though the Government had cancelled the lease agreements of Monkwooed, Shernelly Lower and Rajakkad Estates the Court had stayed it, the statement said. It said that the another evidence of the lack of interest shown by the Law Department to fight the cases to resume the Nelliampathy states in Government is evident from the fact they took one year and six months to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in Supreme Court against a High Court order of November 11, 2011 in the Karapara ‘A’ Estate.
The High Court directed the revenue authorities to issue possession certificate to the Estate. But Revenue Department cannot give possession certificate for forest land. The SLP was filed only after the Palakkad District Collector wrote to the Advocate General on April 4, 2012 for “preferring an SLP in the Supreme Court.” The statement of the environmentalist organization has said that “A verification of lease documents revealed that 27 of the total 52 estates in Nelliampathy had violated lease agreements and the conservation Act.
A report sent by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in July, 2011 to Government said that the estate authorities had violated the lease conditions and transferred leased out land to other persons after the promulgation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.” The state was jointly issued by Nelliampathy Samrakshana Samithy, Janajagratha, Bharathapuzha Samraksana Samithy, Malampuzha Dam Protection Committee and Haritha Development Association.