The State government has terminated the lease deed of 1,148 acres of the Karappara estate in Nelliampathy and ordered its takeover.
A proposal of the Forest Department in this regard was approved by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who holds the portfolio of Forest and Wildlife, on August 27 last and the order (G.O No.83\2013\F&WLD ) was issued by Principal Secretary Pradeep Kumar on August 30.
The lease agreement was cancelled for violation of Section 2 (iii) of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 — transfer of leased out ‘forest’ land without the government’s sanction, and Section 2 (ii) of the Act — lease agreement for conducting non-forestry activity (tourism) without permission from the government.
There was also the violation of Section 4 of the Kerala Grants and Lease Act, 1980 — felling and removing trees inside leased estates without permission and without paying seignorage to the government.
Though the government has terminated the lease deed and ordered resumption of land, it will not be able to take over the estate immediately because of its failure to go in appeal against an order of a Single Bench of the Kerala High Court which provides for a one-month relief period for estate-holders before the takeover.
The court order followed the takeover of the controversial Shernelly estate in Nelliampathy 15 months ago. During the relief period, the estate-holder obtained a stay on the government order cancelling the lease deed.
Forest Department sources said that though the government had terminated the lease deed of 232 acres of the Monkwood estate and 288 acres of the Rajakkad estate after the takeover of the Shernelly estate, their holders obtained stay from court.
The sources said that a proposal to terminate the lease agreement of 2,549 acres of the Manalaroo estate (7 bits) is under the consideration of the government. Hearing has been completed in 15 other cases. These include eight bits of the Alexandria Estate (A) and six bits of (B) and 751 acres of the Brookland estate.
Last year, the Forest Department had resumed five estates, with a total area of 419 acres, in Nelliampathy on the strength of a Supreme Court order declaring the area as vested forest under the Kerala Vesting and Assignment Act, 1971.
There were 55 estates in Nelliampathy leased out by the erstwhile Cochin State and the Kollengode Kovilakam, totalling an area of 13,200 acres of forestland.