Kerala High Court | Photo: Mathrubhumi archives
Kochi: Justice N. Nagaresh, presiding over a single bench of the Kerala High Court, issued a ruling stating that entities no longer need the forest department's permission to remove soil for house construction purposes in assigned forest lands.
The bench, while considering a batch of pleas challenging the district geologist's denial of applications for soil removal in assigned forest lands, observed that the geologist should not be required to wait for the forest range officer's approval. The court said that the geologist should make a decision within a month's time.
Assigned lands in the batch of pleas pertain to those under the Peechi forest range under Thrissur. The panchayat concerned after inspection had issued building permits to petitioners for the construction of houses. The permits specifically noted that a certain amount of soil needs to be removed. The petitioners had approached the district geologist for this.
However, the geologist reportedly sat on these applications and waited for the forest department’s nod as land is an assigned land. The forest department did not respond initially.
Later, the forest department maintained that permission cannot be given as it amounts to violation of title deed mandates. The department noted that soil can be levelled, but cannot be removed.
The petitioners batted against this and Kerala High Court’s ruling comes in this context.