- The Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Amendment Bill, 2023 was introduced in the Kerala Legislative Assembly on March 18, 2023. The Bill amends the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971. The Act transfers private forests to the state government and declares them as reserved forests. It also allows for the eviction of unauthorised occupiers of such land. The Bill replaces the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) (Amendment) Ordinance, which was promulgated on May 22, 2020.
- Exemptions: The Act exempts certain categories of private forests from being transferred to the state government, based on area and usage. These include land used for personal cultivation, subject to applicable ceilings specified in the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963. The Bill adds another exemption for private forests up to 20 acres in size containing a house used by the owner for residential purposes.
- Proof of use for cultivation: The Bill adds that a certificate of purchase issued under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 will not serve as conclusive proof that the owner uses their land for personal cultivation. Such a certificate may be a relevant fact to prove that the land was used for personal cultivation.
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