GO restores curbs on tree-felling in farmers’ land

Earlier order allowed farmers to cut all trees, except sandalwood, on land with title deed

The government has issued a new order cancelling its earlier order allowing farmers with title deeds issued under the 1964 Land Assignment Act to cut all trees, except sandalwood, grown by them on their land in Idukki. The new order, issued on January 30, said the earlier order was cancelled as civil cases in this regard were going on in the High Court and the earlier order created confusion on the status of trees.

Trees’ status restored

The new order issued by Revenue Principal Secretary A. Jayathilak has restored the status of various categories of trees on which restrictions were imposed under the Kerala Promotion of Tree Growth Act 2005. Curbs will now be in place on felling them.

In the earlier order issued last year by Mr. Jayathilak, it was stated that action would be taken against officials who prevented farmers from felling trees grown by them on land with title deeds under the 1964 Act. The order said that permission was not required to cut trees, except sandalwood, on such land. It also said that the ownership of trees in such land was entrusted with the title deed holder.

Threat to rare species

An official of Revenue Department said the new order would clear confusion over permission to cut trees. A blanket permission for cutting all species of trees would have wiped out rare species, especially in the Western Ghats areas.

As per rules, there is no restriction on felling 28 species of trees grown by farmers in their land with title deeds issued under the 1964 Land Assignment Act. For felling 10 specified trees and some scheduled trees, permission is required. There is no permission to fell trees in Cardamom Hill Reserve and restrictions are in place for some title deeds issued in 1993 and afterwards.

Fr. Sebastian Kochupurackal, general convenor, High Range Samrakshana Samithy, said widespread agitations would be launched against the new order, which he termed anti-farmer. “It is an infringement on the rights of farmers who are not allowed even to cut the trees grown by them,” he said.

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