Ministry seeks action-taken report

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has sought an action-taken report from the Kerala government on the Central team report on encroachments in Munnar. The MoEF has asked the government to file the report within a month.

The letter, issued by the Inspector-General of the Forest Conservation Division, was sent to the Chief Secretary of Kerala. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Forest Secretary with the copies of the Central team's report, sources said.

The Central team consisting of K. Subhakar Reddy, Regional Chief Conservator of Forest, Bangalore; K.B. Thampi, Inspector-General of Forests, New Delhi; Prakriti Srivastava Joint Director (Wildlife), New Delhi; and Ullas Karanth, wildlife expert; had recommended the State Forest Department to notify 17,348 acre forests in Munnar as reserve forest. The Chief Secretary and the Principal Forest Secretary, when contacted, said that they were not aware of such a communication.

In its report, the team had accused the State government of violating the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) in Munnar. The land identified by the Revenue Department in the Kuttiyar Valley in Munnar for a housing scheme was forest land. Any move to convert the forest land for non-forestry purposes without the clearance of the Central government amounted to contempt of the Supreme Court, the team reported.

According to the Section 2 (2) of the Act, no State government or other authority shall use any forest land for any non-forest purpose, except with the prior approval of the Union government. Section 2 (3) prohibits the States from assigning any forest land by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organisation not owned, managed or controlled by the government. The Act prescribes a punishment of simple imprisonment up to 15 days for “whoever contravenes or abets the contravention of any of the provisions of Section 2.”

Referring to the Central team's findings, K.P. Rajendran, Revenue Minister, said the land for the Kuttiyar Valley housing project was given by the Kerala State Land Board and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 1:40:13 PM |

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