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Union forest ministry asks Karnataka government to submit report over allegations of forest encroachment in Shivamogga

🔴 Four senior Karnataka forest department officials are accused of helping a family encroach forest land at Sagar taluk in Shivamogga district to use it for non-forestry purposes.

Written by Aksheev Thakur | Bengaluru |
December 29, 2021 1:27:26 pm
forest ministry, forest encorachment, karnataka news, bangalore newsIn 1964, 22,698 families were rehabilitated on 13,067 acres of forest land to pave way for Sharavathi hydel power project. (File Photo/Representative Image)

Based on a complaint against four senior Karnataka forest department officials, who are accused of helping a family encroach forest land at Sagar taluk in Shivamogga district to use it for non-forestry purposes, the Union environment and forest ministry has directed the Karnataka government to ascertain the facts of the case and take punitive action if the officials are found to be guilty.

The direction, issued on December 9, also mentioned that the additional chief secretary, department of environment and forest should submit a progress report.

The complainant Ganapathi D stated in its complaint to the Central Empowered Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court of India, and to the officials of the Karnataka government that the alleged errant officials from the forest department had turned blind eye to a family who had encroached the forest land.

“More than 60 acres of the forest land has been encroached by four members of the same family. They have been permitted to use the forest land for non-forestry purposes by the officials from the forest department. This is in violation of Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Even the forest offence case has not been booked. The Supreme Court has in its previous judgments made it clear that forest lands cannot be used for non-forestry purposes unless prior approval from the Central government,” Ganapathi said in the complaint letter.

In 1964, 22,698 families were rehabilitated on 13,067 acres of forest land to pave way for Sharavathi hydel power project. Though the land was allotted, the ownership is still with the forest department, hence there was a demand to denotify the land and transfer it to the revenue department from the displaced families.

Ganapathi is one of the beneficiaries of the land allotted to him by the state government. In his complaint, he also mentioned that not only his land had been usurped by the encroachers of the same family but they had also encroached on the reserved forest area.

The Karnataka High Court in its March 4 order stated that if any officers are responsible for allowing non-forest activities in the forest land, criminal law should be set in motion by the state government against them. It also prohibited the state government from denotifying forest land without Central government’s prior permission.

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