The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has sought the Government's view on a PIL seeking a stay on its order declaring 24655 hectares in Megamalai area in Western Ghats as reserve forest area.
A Division Bench, comprising Justice S.Palanivelu and Justice R.S.Ramanathan, said the occupants of the lands should not be vacated till May20. They asked the government to file a detailed report.
Seeking the PIL's dismissal, Government counsel told the court that the decision had been taken to protect forests in the area.Some people,who actually claimed to have cultivated mango,had actually raised Ganja,he said.
The order had already come into effect from May one.The area included Varusanadu, Thummakadu and Megamalai Panchayat union.
Ramachandra Raja, Secretary, Megamalai Farmers Association, and Thangaraj, local councillor of Megamalai, said farmers in the area,who had cultivated horticultural crops, would be affected and would not be able to eke out a living.
AIADMK Theni district secretary Thangapandian had also filed a similar petition.