Coimbatore

‘Amendment to TN Forest Act will not affect people occupying Section 17 lands’

A view of the ‘Section 17 lands’ in Gudalur in the Nilgiris.

A view of the ‘Section 17 lands’ in Gudalur in the Nilgiris.

The introduction of a Bill for an amendment to the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, has caused widespread confusion among those occupying Section 17 lands under the Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1969. The people fear that the Bill would lead to their being evicted from their homes.

Those occupying Section 17 lands have been awaiting settlement to their claims by the specially appointed settlement officer.

However, the introduction of the Bill, under 16A of the Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882, has led residents and political parties to believe that thousands of residents could be evicted by the government, with the land being transferred to the Forest Department.

Many protests, including a human chain protest has been planned in Gudalur for February 14 to protest against the draft amendment.

However, officials from various departments clarified to The Hindu that the amendment would have no impact on people living in the Gudalur and Pandalur taluks.

“The amendment is a simple change of classification of land that is already in the possession of the Forest Department,” said an official, who added that the amendment would mean that land classified under Section 53 of the Janmam Estates Act, would be declared as reserved forests.

“Section 53 lands are patches of forests contained within plantations and Section 17 lands. The lands are already with the Forest Department since they were settled by the settlement officer in 2011, and the new amendment will change their classification and declare them as reserved forests,” stated the official, adding that there would be no new lands being taken over, and no one living in the region will be displaced on account of the amendment.

Officials added that a total of around 80,000 acres have been designated as Section 17 lands, but only 29,942 acres would be declared as reserved forests once the Bill was passed.

Highly placed sources said a meeting would be held in Gudalur, at which the District Forest Officer (Gudalur Division) and the Nilgiris District Collector would explain the implications of the Bill and try to address the apprehensions of the locals.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 4:42:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/amendment-to-tn-forest-act-will-not-affect-people-occupying-section-17-lands/article26252582.ece