Nivedita P. Haran Committee submits report on encroachments
TRIVANDRUM, Nov. 15, 2014.
The Nivedita P. Haran Committee, set up by the government to enquire into illegal land transactions and encroachments in the Kurinjimala Sanctuary and neighbouring villages, has recommended government take over of the eucalyptus plantations on land in possession of private parties.

The Committee has also called for a ban on planting of eucalyptus, acacia and other exotic species in the Anchanadu tract and protection of the remaining shola forests in the area. It has also called for references of the cases of encroachments and illegal purchase of land by politicians, officials and influential people to Lok Ayukta after a quick verification by the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau.

The committee found that rule of law had broken down in Anchanadu. The bigwigs obtain possession of land initially encroached by Tamil workers by hoodwinking them, consolidate the holdings and add large areas of surrounding shola forests to their holdings. Eucalyptus is then planted on these lands which destroy the local ecosystem. Power of Attorneys was being misused for the transactions.

The committee has recommended that each and every case of pattayams in the area should be verified without allowing the use of power of attorneys or legal representation.

The Kerala Promotion of Tree Growth in Non-forest Areas Act, 2005, was misapplied and misused for grabbing land and planting eucalyptus. Even through large tracts of shola forests were destroyed, the Forest Department took no cognizance. The settlement officer for Kurinjimala Sanctuary (declared in 2006) had failed to carry out the settlement within the stipulated period of two years.

The committee recommended that the work should now be formally assigned to the Commissioner of Land Revenue and completed in three months. The land of genuine patta holders should be identified, demarcated and handed to the assignee or genuine legal heir of the assignee along with a spatial map. All encroachers should be evicted. It also recommended strong disciplinary action against officials who allowed harvesting of illegally planted eucalyptus in recent years.

Nivedita P. Haran Committee Report in full (Zip file 290 KB)

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