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Karnataka: Activist approaches court to remind govt to ensure mutation of forest land in Shivamogga

The plea said since the forest lands were not in the custody of the forest department, the government officials illegally granted hectares of the land to private parties.

“In respect of Shivamogga, the total notified forest area is 3,61,229.86 ha. Till today, the total area mutated in RTC is 2,52,482.51 ha. However, 10,874.35 ha of forest land is yet to be mutated,” said Achar’s advocate Veerendra Patil.

While dismissing a petition filed by social activist Gireesh Achar on the issue of non-mutation of forest land in Shivamogga on March 15, the Karnataka High Court asked deputy commissioner of Shivamogga Dr Selvamani to expedite the mutation of 1,08,747.35 hectare land notified as forest land.

Since not even an inch of the land has been mutated, the petitioner through his lawyer had sent a reminder to the forest department, regional office of the Union environment ministry and the revenue department. The lawyer said if the directions issued by the court are not complied within a month, he will file a notice of contempt of petition.

“While these lands were notified decades ago by the Karnataka government, the revenue department has not mutated them in the name of the forest department in RTC (records of rights, tenancy and crops),” an official document which mentions details about the ownership of the land said.

Achar in his petition has stated that since the forest lands were not in the custody of the forest department, the government officials illegally granted hectares of the land to private parties. Officials from the forest department said if the lands are in their custody, it will be easier for them to protect lands against illegal encroachment.

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“In respect of Shivamogga, the total notified forest area is 3,61,229.86 ha. Till today, the total area mutated in RTC is 2,52,482.51 ha. However, 10,874.35 ha of forest land is yet to be mutated,” said Achar’s advocate Veerendra Patil.

While the state government has notified 3,30,186.93 ha as the extent of deemed forests on May 5, principal chief conservator of forest R K Singh last month wrote to the additional chief secretary (forest, ecology and environment) Jawaid Akhtar that the revenue department is yet to hand over a large tract of these lands to the forest department.

He also requested that the deemed forest lands should be mutated in favour of the forest department. “The areas notified as Deemed Forests should be declared as ‘Lands assigned for special purposes by the Deputy Commissioners’ under Section 71 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act 1964. The Deemed Forest lands should be mutated in favour of the Forest Department and the entry should be made in column 9 of the RTC (records of rights, tenancy and crops) to that effect. The process of notifying the Deemed Forest areas as Reserved Forests/Protected Forests under the relevant Sections of Karnataka Forest Act 1963 should be initiated,” the letter read.

First published on: 16-08-2022 at 06:29:11 pm
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