TIRUPPUR: Encroachments are eating up hundreds of acres of grazing pastures of milch cattle, farmers in Tiruppur alleged. According to revenue department records, more than 2000 acres of pasture lands, in land parcels of 20-30 acres, are owned by the Animal Husbandry department in Tiruppur.
Of this, over 300 acres have been encroached by private individuals in the last four decades, farmers claimed. Apart from encroachments by individuals for building houses, temples and educational institutions have also been built in pasture lands.
Around 14 temples have been built in Avinashi and a government school has been built in Pallakouvandanapalayam (survey no 117/1), sources said. Based on Animal Husbandry Department records, 475 encroachments were detected in the district - 113 (Tiruppur, Avinashi, Palladam zones), 347 (Dharapuram and Kangeyam) and 15 (Udumalaipet).
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Tamil Nadu Milk Producers Association (Tiruppur) President SK Kolanthaisami said. "Animal rearers and dairy farmers from financially weak background depend on pasture lands to graze their animals. The encroachment of land is a serious issue."
Tamil Nadu Science Forum (Executive member) A Eswaran said, "Pasture land is an important part of the ecosystem, which balances both animals and other living organisms. I believe animal husbandry department doesn't have legal or judicial powers to evict these persons. So, the department should take support of either civil procedure through court or police force to remove encroachers."
Responding to the allegations, joint director (Animal Husbandry Department) Dr A Parivendan said, "Pasture lands are owned by us, but they are maintained by local panchayats and supervised by revenue department. I believe around 300 acres of pasture lands are encroached. We do not have law enforcement powers and so are unable to take action against encroachers. We can only issue notices to them. We have informed our superiors in Chennai on the issue. The government must form an enforcement wing for the department to retrieve our land."