Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday restrained the Forest Department from cutting and removing the trees standing in the land allotted to tribal people under the Sugandhagiri Project in Wayanad.
Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair issued the direction on a writ petition filed by the Sugandhagiri Bhoomi Samrakshana Samithi. According to the petitioner, five acres had been allotted to landless tribals for cultivating cardamom, coffee and other cash crops. The Samithi alleged that the Forest Department was cutting down valuable trees standing in the land of tribals. The court directed the Government to file an affidavit within two weeks.
Justice J. M. James directed the Railway Board of India and the State Government to file a statement or get instruction on the present stage of acquisition process for the proposed Angamaly-Sabari rail line.The court also directed them to inform it about the time that would be taken to acquire the land in possession of the writ petitioner, K.M. Mathew of Kottayam. The court issued the directions in the light of allegations levelled by the Railway Board and the State Government against each other on the lack of funds for acquiring land.
The petitioner sought a direction to the Board to set apart more funds for the Sabari rail line to commence the work forthwith.
It was also pleaded that a direction be issued to the State Government to complete the acquisition of land for the rail line immediately.
The petitioner said he had not been able to use his land for the last 10 years because of the survey stones put up as part of the acquisition process. Had the acquisition been completely effected, the petitioner would have settled his debts due to the banks.
The Railway Budget 2005-06 had set apart only Rs.1 crore for this Rs.541.61-crore project. The inaction of the Railway Board, the ad hoc actions of the State Government violated the petitioner's fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.