Focus on Jenmam lands in and around Gudalur
Udhagamandalam: Forests Minister N. Selvaraj reviewed the progress of various schemes in the Coimbatore and Erode forest circles at a meeting held here on Friday.
The focus was on the current status of the rich rain forests on the Jenmam lands in and around Gudalur where the problems relating to small farmers and land grabbers have been defying a solution for several decades.
Among those who participated in the discussions were Khadi Board Minister K. Ramachandran, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests C.K.Sreedharan, the Nilgiris Collector Santhosh K. Mishra and District Forest Officer, Gudalur, T.S. Dange.
The demand of the farmers and the land grabbers, who were occupying a large part of the Jenmam lands, for patta, the stand of the Forest Department and the directive of the Supreme Court on the utilisation of the lands were discussed, according to official sources. Representatives of various organisations and political parties in Gudalur also met the Minister and urged him to find an early solution to the land-related problems there. It was pointed out that grant of pattas was one of the poll promises made by the DMK-led front.
Later, when mediapersons sought details about the discussions from Mr. Selvaraj, he said his visit was only to study the district and the functioning of the department. "As regards the forest policy, I cannot say anything without consulting the Chief Minister," he added.
Mr. Dange said he had made a detailed presentation to the Minister on the situation in Gudalur vis-a-vis Jenmam lands and pointed out that the apex court had made it explicit that under no circumstances should non-forestry activities be permitted in the forest areas.
The stand of the apex court on the forests in Gudalur was the same even to the forests in other parts of the country. He added that the court had made it very clear that violation of its orders in any form would be viewed very seriously and the violators would have to face drastic consequences. Mr. Selvaraj declared open a forest guesthouse constructed at Rs. 10 lakh under Phase II of the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project (TAP) on Lord Wenlock Downs here.