TAMIL NADU

HC upholds declaration of 8,373 acres as reserve forest

Fillip to nature:The Corporation has been directed not to extend the area of cultivation or clear the forest in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in any manner.

Fillip to nature:The Corporation has been directed not to extend the area of cultivation or clear the forest in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in any manner.  

Land was leased to Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation

In a landmark judgment, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday ordered that 8,373 acres in the possession of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation (BBTC) in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tirunelveli, be notified as reserve forest.

BBTC, in a revision petition, sought ryotwari patta for the land, which was leased to it for a period of 99 years by the Singampatti zamin in 1929.

The land was subsequently taken over by the government under Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryothwari) Act 1948. It opposed the notification to declare the area as reserve forest following the takeover.

The claim of BBTC was subsequently rejected by the Forest Settlement Office.

The Tirunelveli District Court had also dismissed the appeal of the company. Justice M. M. Sundresh partly allowed the civil revision petition while dismissing three other writ petitions filed by BBTC. In the judgment, the HC held that the Forest Settlement Officer can proceed to notify the reserve forest.

However, the same shall be subject to the right of BBTC granted under Section 19 A of the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryothwari) Act 1948, whereby the erstwhile board of revenue has permitted it to be in possession of the land till the end of the original lease period, which lapses by 2028.

‘Reply to notice’

The writ petition filed by the company challenging the notice issued by Forest department, calling upon BBTC to show cause why the lease granted to it should not be terminated, as it had cleared the forest area in violation of the terms of the lease, was dismissed.

The High Court directed the company to reply to the show cause notice and asked the government to pass orders within eight weeks.

The court also said that the government was at liberty to fix an enhanced rate of rent. The company had filed a writ petition after the Forest department asked it to pay an enhanced rent as per a Government Order. The company is paying a lease amount of Rs. 1.75 per acre per year.

The writ petition filed by BBTC in this regard was also dismissed.

The court further directed the BBTC not to extend the area of cultivation or clear the forest in any manner. The litigation has been pending for 40 years, since the proclamation was made by the government to notify the land as part of the reserve forest under Section 4 of The Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882.

The corporation should not extend the area of cultivation or clear the forest in any mannerMadurai Bench

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