Kerala enacts new statute

Published: Thursday 15 June 2000

the Kerala government has finally promulgated the Kerala Forest (Vesting and management of ecologically sensitive lands) Ordinance, 2000, which gives it the power to take ownership of all lands considered 'ecologically fragile'.

The issue has triggered a lot of controversy since it was floated a few months ago. Farmers are against this ordinance as they fear that under its guise the government will also take possession of agricultural lands. Partners of the ruling Left Democratic Front, particularly the Communist Party of India, has also protested this move as it would affect farmers.

However, the government says that it intends to only take away ecologically sensitive lands lying adjacent to or inside forests for better protection and conservation. Under the ordinance, if a committee headed by the chief conservator of the state finds the ecology of land crucial then it can take its ownership after paying compensation.

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