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Over 12k acres of reserve forest land granted to individuals in Karnataka’s Shivamogga; dept to appeal

A senior forest department official said the revenue department has no power to grant forest lands according to the Supreme Court, and it will now have to mutate the land in favour of the forest department.

Over 12,000 acres in Karnataka’s reserve forest areas have been granted to individuals in Shivamogga. (Representational image via Unsplash)

Over 12,000 acres in Karnataka’s reserve forest areas have been granted to individuals in Shivamogga by the revenue department since October 10, 1980 till today, according to the state forest department.

These grants, measuring over 12,160.425 acres, have been made in Bhadravathi, Shivamogga and Sagar forest divisions that fall in Shivamogga district, officials with the forest department said, pointing out that they were illegal.

“The revenue department has no legal powers to grant forest lands and this has been reiterated time and again by the Supreme Court. Even if they do grant it, this is illegal, null and void as per law. Even the Karnataka Land Revenue Act states that without prior permission of the Union environment ministry, forest land cannot be granted and if it is done, it would be illegal,” a senior forest official told The Indian Express.

“So we are in the process of appealing before the revenue department against these land allotments. The revenue department will have to mutate the land in favour of the forest department,” he added. Forest officials said individuals were carrying out cultivation on such illegally granted forest land.

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Explaining further, advocate Veerendra R Patil, who is fighting against forest land encroachments in Karnataka, said, “In such cases, the forest department reserves the right of appeal before the assistant commissioner who is vested with the powers under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act and even if the department does not appeal, suo motu action can be taken by the assistant commissioner.”

“Over the years, several illegal grants have been made and neither the forest department nor the administration took any action to stop this. The lands have to be mutated in favour of the forest department. Section 9 of the Forest Conservation Rules clearly states that the central government has the power to take action against officials who make the illegal grant, but this has also never happened. Tehsildars should have been pulled up for wrongly granting the forest lands since 1980. Most of them have died or retired by now,” Patil said.

First published on: 14-09-2022 at 13:29 IST
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