Kozhikode: Around 30 farmers in the district are facing eviction from their agricultural land for which they had received title deeds 50 years ago following a notice from the Kerala Forest Department.
The farmers, who are from the Nellippoyil and Kundanthode areas of Thamarassery taluk, have now been directed to appear before the Forest Appellate Tribunal carrying all documents related to payment of land tax since 1970.
According to the Forest Department, the farmers had been given title deeds for forest land violating rules. Hence, the department is seeking cancellation of the ‘illegal’ title deeds of farmland extending to around 50 acres and taking over of the land by the government.
No reprieve yet
However, the aggrieved farmers from Nellippoyil pointed out that the state government’s policy so far has been to regularise all land encroachments before 1977. But the present notice has even asked farmers to return land for which they had received title deeds in 1972. Most of the farmers would lose half of their properties extending to two to three acres on which areca nut and nutmeg are grown.
Three persons would be deprived of all their farmland as well as homes.
The aggrieved farmers had presented their case before the Santhwana Sparsham adalat of the state government held in Kozhikode early in February, but no solution was offered by the authorities.
Forest Dept's stand
Meanwhile, the Forest Department has taken the stand it would not part with the land. Officials of the department said that a resurvey had taken place in the area in 1976 and these properties were designated as forest land. Even after this, the Revenue Department had sanctioned title deeds for the said land, according to Forest officials.
Moreover, the Kerala High Court has ordered cancellation of the title deeds granted by the Land Tribunal, they added. The Forest authorities have now decided to install markers in the area indicating forest boundaries.
A few years ago, the Kerala State Electricity Board had decided to acquire some farmland in this area for the Marippuzha hydroelectric project. However, the farmers will not get any compensation for the land if it is designated as a forest area.
At the same time, George M Thomas, MLA, said that no action to take over the farmland would be allowed until a joint inspection is carried out by a team comprising Forest and Revenue officials, members of local bodies and farmers’ representatives.