Owners of illegal resorts begin farming along notified elephant corridor

Owners of illegal resorts that were shut down in the notified elephant corridor in Bokkapuram have begun to cultivate their lands.  

Contravening the rules of the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forests (TNPPF) Act, the owners of resorts whose buildings were sealed by the district administration have begun cultivating their lands along the notified elephant corridor in Bokkapuram in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) buffer zone.

Local Adivasi residents in Bokkapuram alleged that the resort owners had felled bamboo and other trees from their lands and have started tilling the soil.

A retired official from the Revenue Department said there were a number of rules that the resort owners in the area were flouting. “For a start, they are not allowed to put up fences restricting movement for wildlife. They are also illegally drawing water from streams running through the region,” he said.

Property owners cannot grow crops in previously uncultivated lands. “This could be a strategic move by them to claim that they are in fact not running illegal resorts, but are instead only farmers,” said a Nilgiris-based conservationist.

It is illegal to change land-use along the elephant corridor and in all TNPPF Act notified lands in the Sigur plateau, the conservationist said. Local residents alleged that the property owners were also drawing water from a marshland located behind the Bokkapuram Temple, for farming.

“The elephant corridor has been notified to allow elephants a pathway to move between habitats. It does not matter if the corridor is blocked by buildings or by farms; they are all violations, which left unchecked could to an increase in conflict between humans and wildlife. The district administration, revenue department, local body and the forest department need to get their act together and take strict action against these violators,” said another conservationist from the Nilgiris.

When contacted, Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone) L.C.S. Srikanth said that he was not aware of the lands being cultivated by the resort owners and promised to take action.

Collector J. Innocent Divya too promised to look into the issue.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 3:19:19 PM |

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