Kurinji land verification delayed

The report says the settlement process is ongoing and never reached finality.

KOTTAYAM: The process of verifying the veracity of the title deeds of land at the Kurinji sanctuary in the Kottakambur village near Munnar got delayed due to the lack of staff specifically designated for the purpose, says the report filed by the Devikulam RDO before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Chennai, on August 23.

The report says the widespread public protests also delayed verification. It also mentions about the 32 acres allegedly owned by Idukki MP Joyce George at the 58th Block of Kottakompoor.

Despite the high level team led by additional chief secretary Dr Niveditha P. Haran issuing the order on February 16, 2015, to verify each land holding of Vattavada and Kottakambur villages through a laid-down process and the land revenue commissioner issuing an order on December 17 that year to the sub-collector Devikulam, the process, it says, got delayed.

The state government which constituted a special enquiry team led by Dr Haran, for examining the whole land related issues in the Kurinjimala sanctuary.

It says the stand adopted by the concerned local self-governments also delayed the establishment of the Kurinji sanctuary.

“The gist of the representation by the president of the Vattavada grama panchayath and another by the Anchumoodu Karshaka Samrakshana Samithi was that the Kurinji sanctuary shall be limited to the land which belongs to the forest department, and the land in the possessory right of individuals, irrespective of its nature shall be excluded from being constituted as Kurinji sanctuary,” it says.

The report says that though the holders of genuine title deeds are residing and cultivating in these lands, a large extent is suspected to be under encroachments.

The Left Democratic Front( LDF) government declared the 3,200 hectares of land belonging to the Kottakambur village block 68 and survey number 1 and the Block 62 in the Vattavada village as Kurinjimala National Sanctuary.

The aim was to preserve the ‘Neelakurinji’ plants growing largely in these regions. According to the activists, many individuals and private companies have appropriated lands at this place after the government declared it as a national sanctuary.

The report says many genuine title deeds are there in the area notified for the Kurinjimala sanctuary, including those issued by the former government of Travancore and those issued under the Kerala Land Assignment Act 1960.

These lands under the protection of the forest department and lands under encroachment and unauthorised occupation are lying interspersed. Although holders of genuine title deeds are living and cultivating, large extents of land are suspected encroachments.

The forest department could not assume custody of them as Reserve since the forest settlement is in the initial stages only. The report says the settlement process is ongoing and never reached finality.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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