Cabinet proposes to amend Act; Central nod required

The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday proposed to amend the Kerala Forest (Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Act to exclude up to two hectares from the purview of the Act. The amendment will require clearance from the Union government.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after the Cabinet meeting that land measuring less than two hectares taken over by the government under the Act would be returned to the original owner. If it is essential for the Forest Department to retain the land, compensation would be paid to the owner.

If the extent of land taken over under the Act is between two hectares and 15 hectares, two hectares would be released to the owner. If it was not possible to release the land, compensation would be provided for two hectares. If tribal land had been taken over under the Act affecting their habitat, the whole area would be restored.

Mr. Chandy said that the office memorandum issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on the Western Ghats accommodated the demands of Kerala, which wanted populated areas and cultivated areas to be excluded from the proposed Ecologically Sensitive Areas and buffer zones.

There was no need for any concern by farmers now as no homesteads would be included in the Ecologically Sensitive Area.

More In: Kerala | National