The high-level committee constituted by the government to go into various aspects of the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forests Act, 1949 and the issues connected with it concluded a two-day visit to the Nilgiris on Wednesday.

Even as various organisations highlighted the problems arising from the implementation of the Act, the Tamil Nadu Green Movement (TNGM) expressed the hope that it will not be diluted.

In his representation to the committee, the TNGM Coordinator, K. Mohanraj, opined that the Act is particularly important to the Nilgiris, which is rich in flora and fauna.

Protected areas like the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, the Mukurthi National Park and the very important reserve forests of the Nilgiris North Forest division are flanked by private forests, which offer landscape connectivity to the wild animals.

Many green campaigners have constantly relied on the Act to prevent illegal activities like tree felling and questionable constructions. Forests notified under the Act are protected in the same manner as those which come under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the directions of the Apex Court are applicable to them.

The provisions of the Act have also been used by the Madras High Court while dealing with the cases relating to the elephant corridor near the MTR.

Meanwhile, the Convener of the Vivasayigal Thozhilalargal Munnetra Sangam, M.S. Selvaraj, said in his memorandum that the Act was being misused. It has given room for abuse of power and caused confusion.

All land holdings below two hectares should be exempted from the provisions of the Act. However, the exemption should not be extended to any land sought to be used for industrial or resort activities.

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