(Prayer: Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying this Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus, to direct the first and second respondents to grant cutting orders in favor of the Petitioner to cut down the Karuvellam trees which were illegally Planted by the third respondent in Survey Nos.252/2 and 253/3 comprised in Patta No.227 and 1400, situated at Marikundu Village, Aundipatti Taluk, Theni District, by considering the Petitioner`s representation dated 25.04.2022.)
1. This Writ Petition has been filed by the petitioner for issuance of Mandamus directing the first and second respondents for granting cutting orders in favor of the petitioner to cut down the Karuvellam trees which were illegally Planted by the third Respondent in Survey Nos.252/2 and 253/3 comprised in Patta No.227 and 1400, situated at Marikundu Village, Aundipatti Taluk, Theni District, by considering the Petitioner's representation dated 25.04.2022.
2. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner has purchased the property in Survey Nos.252/2 and 253/3, Marikundu Village, Aundipatti Taluk, Theni District vide Document No.5817 of 2011 and registered the property in his wife's name Pitchamani. After the said purchase, the patta was mutated in the names of the petitioner and his wife. As such, they are in possession and enjoyment of the said property from the date of purchase. Thereafter, pursuant to his employment, he left the village and stayed in Thenkanikottai. After few years, when he returned back to his native to do agricultural works, he found the land filled with shrubs and Karuvelam trees. When he intended to clear the same, the respondents objected to the same, stating that they sowed seeds for growing trees and it belonged to Forest Department. Thereafter, the petitioner had furnished the particulars along with requisite documents such as, revenue records, patta and chitta to prove that the properties stand in the names of the petitioner and his wife. Hence, this petition.
3. When the matter is taken up for hearing on 04.07.2022, the learned Additional Government Pleader appearing for the Forest officials submitted that the present Divisional Forest Officer would take steps to survey the land and earmark the boundaries. If the petitioner's claim is found to be true, there will not be any objection. There is some dispute with regard to overlapping of the land. He further submits that the revenue officials would co-operate to complete the survey and earmark the boundaries based on the revenue records. This Court vide order dated 04.07.2022 in W.P.(MD).No.9080 of 2022 directed the second and third respondents to complete the process of the survey without any delay.
4. The learned Additional Government Pleader appearing for the respondents 3 to 5 submitted that pursuant to the order dated 04.07.2022 in W.P.(MD).No.9080 of 2022, the Forest authorities had conducted an survey of the property along with revenue authorities and the boundaries have been earmarked. In the property of the petitioner, there are 342 miscellaneous trees are in existence and the enumeration has been done and the report has been submitted by the District Forest Officer to the Principal Conservator of Forest on 29.07.2022. After receiving the orders from the Principal Conservator of Forest, who shall determine the cost, the petitioner shall be permitted to cut the trees on the payment of the said cost fixed by the Forest Department. For better appreciation, paragraph 7 to 9 is extracted hereunder:
“7) Further, it is respectfully submitted that similarly, the Forest Ranger Officer, Gandamanur has reported in his Ref.No.437/2022 dated 25.07.2022 that after inspection/perambulation on 23.07.2022 and 24.07.2022, they have listed out 342 miscellaneous trees only are in existence in the said patta lands planted during 1981-82 in the scheme of raising miscellaneous plantation to the extent of 20.00 Ha., The petitioner has agreed to bear the cost if any arising for the removal of trees in his patta land.
8) It is respectfully submitted that accordingly a proposal in Ref.No.T/391/2020 Dated: 29.07.2022 has been submitted by the third respondent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), Chennai through the Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Srivilliputhur – Meghamalai Tiger Reserve, Madurai so as to accord permission for allowing the petitioner to cut and remove 436 miscellaneous trees raised by the Forest Department.
9) It is respectfully submitted that orders of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force), Chennai are awaited and the petitioner will be allowed to cut and remove the trees planted by the Forest Department in his patta land”.
5. The learned counsel for the petitioner further submitted that he is ready to pay and has no objection to remit the amount fixed by the Forest authorities. His only grievance is that it would be a endless time to wait for the orders, hence a specific direction to be issued.
6. The learned Special Government Pleader appearing for the first and second respondents submitted that after the direction of this Court, the Revenue authorities had accommodated with the Forest officials, inspected the place and earmarked the boundaries. Now, the petitioner's property have been earmarked and the overlapping have been clarified.
7. I have considered the matter in the light of the submissions made by learned counsels for the petitioner and the learned Special Government Pleader and Additional Government Pleader appearing for the respondents and perused the records.
8. This Court directs the Princ
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ipal Conservator of Forest, Panagal Building, Jenis Road, Saidapet, Chennai, to pass appropriate orders by fixing the value of the trees in Ref.No.T/391/2020 dated 29.07.2022 within a period of (4) four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order and thereafter, the District Forest Officer is directed to inform about the same to the petitioner. The petitioner is directed to remit the amount within a period of two (2) weeks from the date of getting such order and thereafter, he may be permitted to cut down the trees. 9. With the above direction, this Writ Petition is disposed of. There shall be no order as to costs.