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Land on lease for tourism mooted

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Roy Mathew

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Principal Secretary (Revenue) Nivedita P. Haran has put forward several recommendations for the protection and amelioration of the environment in and around Munnar, besides action against encroachers, in her inquiry report.

Ms. Haran recommended that planting of eucalyptus as captive plantations for factories should be discouraged and discontinued. Land given to Hindustan Newsprint Ltd. for captive plantation (totalling nearly 7,000 hectares) should be converted into shola forest.

Ms. Haran also specified that the growth of sholas should be allowed in more areas in the region. The remaining thick vegetation in cardamom reserves should be conserved. Forests in the area should be maintained as consolidated areas rather than fragmented ones.

She suggested that the Government give land on lease for tourism purposes rather than assigning them. Action should be taken against alienation of tribal and other assigned lands. Proper enquiry should be conducted before granting title deeds en masse. A committee should vet the assignments. With declaration of Devikulam, Peerumade and Udumbanchola taluks as ecologically sensitive area through an ordinance, environmental impact assessment should be made mandatory for all commercial constructions.

An empowered monitoring committee should approve all constructions.

Besides a master plan for the zone, sub-plans should be prepared for eco-sensitive villages such as Chinnakanal, Kannan Devan Hills, Bison Valley, Wagamon and Pallivasal. Non-objection certificates from the Revenue Divisional Officer or the Revenue Department should be insisted upon for residential buildings.

Ms. Haran also recommended one-year moratorium on all land transactions in three taluks. Sanction for all buildings plans in Munnar, Chinnakkanal, Pallivasal and Wagamon should be stayed. Building permits given unauthorisedly should be cancelled.

She suggested that the evictions and demolitions begin at Munnar.

Where construction was not in a totally objectionable area, the premises could be taken over by the Government and used for valid public purposes. Caveats should be filed before various courts seeking hearing of the Government before issue of stays on evictions.

Every title deed should be verified and all bogus title deed holders should be prosecuted within six months. Vigilance inquiries should be conducted into all transactions during the past five years. The revenue statute should be amended to stop reuse of cancelled `thandapper' numbers. Cases before the land board and other revenue authorities should be speeded up.

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