Centre’s gazette notification challenged in HC

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday ordered notice to the Centre and the State on a public interest litigation petition that challenged the gazette notification issued in 2020 by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change notifying 0-3 km around Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone.

A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and S. Ananthi ordered notice on the petition filed by P. Lalaji, representing Black Rock Hill Planters Association, Kanniyakumari district. He complained that the draft notification was not made available in Tamil as per norms.

He said in a public meeting convened in this regard the local people opposed further restriction on the use of the land as it would affect their livelihood. Restrictions had already been imposed on the basis of existing reserve forest, private forest, coastal zone, wildlife sanctuary, bird sanctuary and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve buffer zone.

The boundary of Kanniyakumari Reserve Forest had been clearly marked. There was no encroachment by the local people and if there were any further restrictions they would cause considerable inconvenience to them. The affected lands were classified as ryotwari patta where the plantation and non-plantation agriculture was done, he said.

The opposition raised in this regard had to be considered by the authorities concerned, he said and sought quashing of the gazette notification.

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