K.S. Sudhi

KOCHI: The Central team which investigated the alleged violations of the Forest Conservation Act in Munnar disproved the stand of the Idukki District Collector regarding the demarcation of some areas for notification as reserved forest. It also found that the allegations of Devikulam MLA S. Rajendran regarding the clearing of shola forests in Gudarale Estate by Kanan Devan Hill Plantation Company (KDHPC) were wrong.

The Forest Department had initiated steps for notifying 17,349 acres of forest as reserved forest in Munnar some time ago.

However, delay in notifying the area had invited severe criticism. The Central team has recommended that the area should be notified without waiting for detailed surveys, maps and computation of exact areas.

According to the team's report, the District Collector had stated that the company had made encroachments in the area and large tracts were left out of the proposed notification purposefully for its benefit. The Collector had stated that Ka Block, an area identified for notification, was not properly demarcated and there was discrepancy in the extent of the area being notified and the actual area. The resurvey was not correct and the notification submitted by the Forest Department was based on the resurvey records which were not approved and published. On inspection, it was found that the Ka Block portions were well-demarcated and consolidated by permanent cairns. Survey stones were found along each cairn and the boundary was also demarcated.