Saturday, June 6, 2009

Maldharis back in forest ?

Maldharis back in forest ?
The forest department of the Gir, which is conserving lion habitat, has come under scanner after being accused of conniving with Maldharis.
The Maldharis, who continue to reside in the forest area despite getting land elsewhere in the government's resettlement scheme, are being encouraged by forest officials to stay rooted in the reserved forest area, claimed Anil Chudasama, who moved a petition against forest department in the high court on Thursday.
Chudasama had brought a land plot in Mendarda through registered sale deed from ancestors of one Maldhari Raja Amra Rabari. Chudasama approached the court after the forest officials stopped him from doing any activities on the plot.
"Heirs of Raja Amra who are residing at Gangajalia ness (habitat of Maldharis in forest) are occupying the forest area along with their families and cattle herd. The forest department slaps small fines on them from time to time without prosecuting them," alleged Chudasama in affidavit.
"Similarly, many other Maldharis have sold their land and stay in Gangajalia nes, Vanivav ness, Kathi Alwadi ness and Amrutwell ness," said Chudasama.
Interestingly, the forest department had also moved the high court for obtaining permission to remove Maldharis from the reserved area. The court had, however, turned down the request saying the government already had power to do so. Chudasama, however, alleged that Maldharis were staying in reserved forest area with the blessings of forest department.
According to the details furnished by the collector of Junagadh, 279 transactions have taken place over the land in eight talukas of Junagadh - 21 in Mendarda, 49 in Talala, 10 in Keshod, 103 in Mangrol, 41 in Visavadar, 11 in Manavadar, four in Malia and 40 in Una.
On the other hand, the forest department data say 300 plots have been sold to the third party in those talukas.

HC reserves order on sale of 300 Gir plots

HC reserves order on sale of 300 Gir plots
Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat high court on Friday reserved order on 300 land plots near the Gir reserve forest area.
Justice Shah had directed the local authorities to conduct a survey on Monday to find out the status of the plots owned by Anil Chudasama, who had filed a petition against the forest department.
The direction came after Chudasama countered the claim of forest department.
“According to a notification of the state government issued in 1997, the land does not fall under the jurisdiction of forest department but under the revenue department,” argued VM Trivedi, counsel for Chudasama. “The forest department therefore can’t restrain him from cultivation activity,” he added.
The high court had suggested the state government that the Junagadh collector and the chief conservator of forest shall jointly examine 588 cases of allotment of plots for resettlement of Maldharis and ascertain as to whether the said plots fell within the sanctuary forest area or revenue area.
Chudasama had bought a plot of land near Mendarada taluka from a Maldhari who was given the plot under the rehabilitation scheme by the state government in 1982. Chudasama recently approached the high court when the forest department objected to cultivation activity on the land. Meanwhile, it came to light that as many as 300 plots, which were given to Maldharis under the resettlement scheme, were bought by third parties.
The high court raised serious objection to selling of such plots and asked the Junagadh collector and the forest department to furnish details about such transfer of ownership of land.