Row over forest check-post at Nilackal

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TDB issues notice to forest conservator for removal of the check-post

A check-post set up by the Forest Department at the entrance of the base camp at Nilackal has kicked up another controversy with the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) taking strong exception to it.

The TDB has issued a notice to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests demanding immediate removal of the check-post in the land allotted to the board 15 years ago. TDB chief engineer Vinayakumar and executive engineer R. Ajithkumar said the Forest Department had nothing to do with the 110 hectares of forestland allotted to the TDB at Nilackal for setting up a self-contained base camp for Sabarimala pilgrims.

However, Forest Department sources said the check-post had been set up in the forestland that had been allotted to the TDB for permissive use.

All vehicles and pilgrims crossing the check-post would be subjected to a preliminary scrutiny and the process would give the number of pilgrims visiting the pilgrim centre daily.

The Forest Department was of the view that the TDB should produce proof to show that the rubber plantation at Nilackal where the check-post stood belonged to the latter.

The TDB had raised the issue at the Chief Minister’s review meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. TDB president A. Padmakumar said the land belonged to the TDB and the Forest Department should remove the ‘illegal’ check-post. The Principal CCF said the decision to set up the check-post was taken after a meeting with Forest Minister K. Raju. However, it is understood that the Chief Minister subscribed to Mr. Padmakumar’s view. The TDB may move the high court if the Forest Department failed to remove the check-post.

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