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Laws Governing Conservation of Land in Kerala

During most of our lifetimes, we have seen large changes in the environment around us. We may have seen forests be cut down for housing or farm fields be turned into a shopping center. Although some of these changes are necessary for human survival, as we convert more and more natural land to developed land, there is a growing concern over the amount and quality of the natural land that remains. Some people are concerned that we are destroying all of our natural land, and in recent years, there has been a large push to protect our land.

When you "conserve" something, you protect it from being damaged or destroyed. In the case of land conservation, the goal is to safeguard land in its natural state and, in some cases, convert developed properties back into greenspaces.

Land conservation is the process of protecting natural land and returning developed land to its natural state.

Land conservation efforts around the world are underpinned by national and sub-national frameworks of conservation laws and policies. Some laws governing the Conservation of Land in Kerala are:

The Kerala Land Conservancy Act, 1957
  • The Kerala Land Conservancy Act, 1957 (Act 8 of 1958)
  • The Kerala Land Conservancy Rules, 1958
  • Kerala Land Conservancy (Amendment) Act, 2009 (Act 29 of 2009) (Repealed The Kerala Land Conservancy (Amendment) Ordinance, 2009 )

Kerala land Conservancy Act, 1957 prevents the unauthorized occupation of government lands in Kerala. The objective was to have a uniform act, applicable all over the state. The act applies to all government lands across Kerala.

The ever-increasing land value resulted in rampant encroachment of revenue lands, both through physical occupation and through forged documents. The Act intends to prevent such encroachment, and conserve government land for the "common good "or benefit of the society.

Salient Features
  1. The act defines government land and perumboke land.
    Sn 3 of the Act lists the following as property of government:
    1. Public roads
    2. Streets, lanes, and pathways
    3. Bridges, bunds, ditches, and dykes
    4. Banks of rivers, streams, and drainage canals
    5. All flowing water
    Perumboke land is defined as unassisted land which is the property of the government, used or reserved for public purpose, or for communal use of the village.
  2. The act lays down rules governing lawful occupation of government land
  3. Establishing the principal land once vested with the government cannot be alienated without the concurrence of the government.
  4. The act makes it unlawful for any person to occupy a land which is the property of the government, whether perumboke or not, without the permission of the government.
  5. The act lists state as the custodian or trustee of all resources, including unassessed land, and reserve its use for public purposes.
  6. Sn 61(1) makes it unlawful for anyone to destroy, remove, or appropriate any earth, sand, metal, or other article of value from government land, except without a permit.

Kerala Land Assignment Act, 1960
The Kerala land Assignment Act empowers the government to assign any government land, either absolutely, or subject to restrictions and limitations. Sn 10 of the Transfer of Property Act prescribes conditions regarding alienation of such lands.

The subsequent Kerala land Assignment Rules, 1964 lists out the purpose for which government land may be assigned.

The major purposes are:
  1. For cultivation
  2. For housing sites
  3. Beneficial enjoyment of adjoining registered holdings

Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967
Objective of Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967 is to improve food crops, such as paddy, sugarcane, vegetable, tapioca, yam, tea etc.

The act was first promulgated in 1958 and later amended in 1967.

The objective of the act was to:
  1. Bring wasteland and arable land likely to be left fallow under cultivation
  2. Prevent the conversion of any land cultivated with food crops for other purposes.

Parveen K v Land Revenue Commisisoner, Thiruvananthapuram (2010): All provisions of the Land Utilization Order, 1967 are still valid. Only exception is with regards to paddy and wetland, which are now covered under the Paddy land Act.

Kerala Paddy Field and Wetland Conservation Act, 2008
The Kerala Paddy Fields and Wetlands Conservation Act, 2008 aims to conserve and prevent the reclamation of wetlands and paddy-fields of the state.

  1. To promote the growth of agriculture
  2. To sustain the ecological balance

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