Maintain status quo on land around Gir: HC
Times of India
The Gujarat High Court asked the forest department and the petitioner to maintain status quo on the land whose ownership had unravelled a racket of illegal sale of land meant to relocate Maldharis from the Asiatic lions' abode in Gir forest, till the case was sorted out.
A petition filed by Anil Chudasama, who had bought this land from a Maldhari, in the HC after he was prevented from constructing on the land, had unravelled illegal land deals in and around the Gir Sanctuary, where such land had been sold off to industrialists, hoteliers and politicians.
The HC on Friday directed the revenue secretary to adjudge whether the three hectare plot falls under revenue land or forest land.
Justice MR Shah, however, reserved his order over the larger issue of 588 plots ameasuring nearly 42 sq km in all. Earlier this week, the court had raised objection to the Maldharis selling the land that was allotted to them under a resettlement scheme. The court has also asked amicus curiae Amit Panchal, the forest department and the revenue department in Junagadh district to conduct a panchnama of Chudasma's plot on Monday.
The court ordered the forest department not to disturb Chudasama after his wife Rekha informed the court that the forest department along with police and local political leaders have been constantly harassing them.
Meanwhile, the state government suggested that Junagadh collector, the chief conservator of forest could jointly examine all 588 cases of land allotment and find out how many plots fall within the forest area. They could also factually ascertain whether the plots transferred by the original allotees really violate any statuary provisions. It also suggested to restrain any person to do any activity in the land under the forest and sanctuary area. Chudasama was the fourth buyer of this the plot in Mendarda taluka, allotted to a Maldhari family in 1982 as per the rehabilitation scheme to shift the tribals from the sanctuary.