Chief Wildlife Warden had earlier reported to the court that they were causing massive disruption to the habitat of wild animals.
The Madras High Court has now granted time till August 25 for the State Government to act on relocating the Thengumarahada villagers in the Kotagiri district. It is said that the villagers have been occupying 500 acres of land since 1952 which has been causing hindrance to the animal’s movement of late.
Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar granted the said time to the government after Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran assured that the State Government was working on resolving the issue and will be making a decision by this weekend.
The AAG said that meetings were hosted with stakeholders and it was now for the government to take a stand.
The judges went on to point out that Thengumarahada was formed in early 1952 when they leased out the forest land to 142 individuals for agriculture purposes. It was also decided back then that in any case of violation of the lease, the lands would be taken back by the government.
It is now noted that the lease has been violated when only 10 individuals of the original leases were occupying the land and the rest do not hold any legal rights over the land. This proves as a major block for the movements of wild animals.
The Chief Wildlife Warden has said that the occupied region is attached to the Bhavanisagar Range of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve which is a major part of interconnecting the Nilgiris biodiversity with the Eastern Ghats biodiversity.
It is now declared that most of the villagers who are caught to be violating could be evicted without even paying any compensation.
The judges also pointed out that some of the villagers agreed on relocating on their free will if given alternative living spaces. This persuaded the judges to form a committee to ascertain their views and then made their choice to move with the decision of the state government.