The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has sought from the Karnataka government a detailed report on the construction of a road after diverting 0.0768 hectares of forest land at the Sirsi taluk in the Uttara Kannada district.
The road was allegedly constructed for a private individual, Preetam Prakash Palankar, without waiting for the ministry’s nod. The state government in November approved the diversion of forest land and sent the application to the ministry for its approval.
In a letter, dated November 22, to Jawaid Akhtar, additional chief secretary (forest, ecology and environment), a copy of which is with The Indian Express, the ministry stated that it examined the state government’s proposal and observed that the proposed road had already been in existence. It rejected the proposal for the diversion of forest land to pave way for the construction of the road.
“It is to inform that a proposal submitted by the state government has been examined and it is observed that as per satellite imagery, the proposed road is already in existence and it is not clear as to whether the state government has given any permission to the user agency for the use of said road. If no permissions were given, a detailed report along with name of erring officials responsible for the violations may be provided to this office expeditiously to initiate the action under section 3A and 3B of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Further, giving exclusive access to one single applicant over a road would lead to right of way complications. Therefore, the state government may review the entire issue and deal with the access provisions comprehensively including the one proposed in the instant proposal. In view of the above I am directed to convey the rejection of the instant proposal,” the letter said.
On June 1, Palankar sought approval for the diversion of 0.0768 ha of the forest land to connect an existing main road to his private land. Upon inspection of the site, the forest department approved his request for the diversion of the forest land on September 17. The proposal was then forwarded to the Union environment ministry to seek its nod under the Forest Conservation Act.