Farmers in parts of Thandikudi, near Kodaikanal, in Dindigul district have objected to acquisition of revenue lands by the Forests Department.
In Vilpatti, a survey was carried out to transform about 250 acres of cultivable land into forest in 2018. Since the farmers were aware of such act, they raised objections. Hence, the authorities gave up the move finally. Later, when the authorities made a move to hand over 20 acres of revenue land to a private party at Mannavanur for setting up a fish farm, the farmers protested against it.
The aggrieved farmers then moved the High Court, Madurai, which notified such lands as ‘prohibited area’ in its order.
Such lands in Mannavanur were mostly grasslands, which serve as cattle feed. If such grasslands go into the hands of private parties, then the farmers would find it difficult to feed their cattle, he said on Tuesday.
Thandigudi is no exception to such acts of handing over revenue lands to the Forest Department. When a survey was carried out on about 60 cents of land near Murugan temple in Thandikudi, farmers objected to it and passed resolutions unanimously at Grama Sabha meetings thrice earlier. Since such lands were considered as non-cultivable, they could be utilised for constructing a playground and staff quarters for the government hospital there, which has been in existence since 1957 without any housing quarters. Such lands could be even converted into police quarters, he suggested.
Reliable sources from the Department of Forest said that as per the policy note, two-thirds of a hill area and one-third of a plain area must be under green cover for ecological sustainability. However, there’s no issue in Vilpatti.
As per land survey No. 967 at Mannavanur, it’s a beautiful grassland. Out of 260 acres under the survey number, only 50 acres are now available. The initiative should not only come from the Forest Department, but each and every citizen has a role in forest conservation.
The participation of all mankind in forest conservation is vital. Hence, the local community should identify available lands to protect from all sorts of abuse and conserve it. Only when conservation measures are taken, 12 dams in lower Palani hills will increase rain catchment. If green cover is not increased, then the reservation capacity will get reduced. If lands are not handed over to the Forest Department, then it cannot be protected. If the farmers are reluctant and objecting to it, the department is not going to bother.
With a total of 6,097 square km area in Dindigul district, the forest cover is only 12 per cent. Of this forest cover, 52,000 hectares in Kodaikanal are under forest cover. Almost 1,700 hectares of land in pockets of Kodaikanal is under dispute, sources said.
Forest Department sources from Dindigul said as of now there’s no settlement issue.
Refuting claims of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the sources said a survey was conducted near the Murugan temple in Thandikudi, where about 10 acres of land is under the control of the Forest Department, to create infrastructure facility for the staff quarters. Such land had been in possession of the Forest Department since 1978.
Since movement of elephants was noticed often in Thandikudi, some infrastructure facility should necessarily be required to keenly monitor such situations to avoid any man-animal conflict. Moreover, it’s not an easy task to take over any portion of the revenue land. Only after going through all formal procedures, the government would notify in gazette before taking over any such land, the sources clarified.