The Forest officials have decided to move court against the decision to auction 1,163 acres and 31.5 cents of forest land here. Both Nilambur Kovilakam and the Forest Department claimed ownership of the land on Tuesday. The Forest Department countered the claim of the Kovilakam arguing that the government is the one and only custodian of Ecologically Fragile Land (EFL) in the country.
According to Nilambur Kovilakam, a Supreme Court order in 1996 made them the owners of the land. The court had given the land to 112 family members of the Kovilakam.
“The court verdict clearly indicates that it is agricultural land. The government later gave EFL status to the land to deny our ownership. Some political leaders in Malappuram district are trying to deny us our land. We will seek the intervention of the court in the issue,” a member of the Nilambur Kovilakam said on condition of anonymity.
The Kovilakam is also planning to file contempt of court petition against the Nilambur North DFO.
“There is a rubber estate of the Plantation Corporation adjacent to our plot in the forest. Then, how come only our land is EFL? There is a clear agenda behind labelling it as EFL. In the auction, we are only handing over the ownership of the land that the Supreme Court had given us. It is not right to say we are selling the land,” the Kovilakam member added.
However, the Forest Department denied all the claims of the Kovilakam. According to the officials, when the land came under the EFL Act, the earlier court order became invalid. They said that the plot is in dense forest where animals are living.
“We will approach the court to clarify our stance in the issue. There is no point in claiming the land, because when it was declared EFL, it became government property. In addition, the Forest Department was not a party in the case seeking court invention for auctioning the land. That point is enough to prevent the auction of the land,”
C K Sasidharan IFS, Chief Conservator of Forests and Custodian of Vested Forests told Express. The Forest Department has decided to approach the court after seeking legal advice in the issue.