Upalokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi has directed the government to take immediate steps to clear 750 acres of forest land encroachment in Biligirirangana Hills (BR Hills) in Chamarajanagar district.
The Upalokayukta report said records clearly show that an area of 22,611 acres in BR Hills was declared as reserve forest under the then Mysore Forest Act and that there were no documents of dereserving of the forest land at any time, except for one notification for 130 acres in 1942.
The complaint regarding the encroachment of forest land in BR Hills was filed in 2003. On January 24, 2011, the government declared an area of 359.10 sq km as Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple Tiger Reserve.
During the enquiry it was revealed that in 1960, 1961 and 1962, the government granted 425 acres of land by darkhast and also by confirming the occupation in the forest land, though there was no land available for the Revenue department to issue darkhast.
When a joint survey did not materialise for several years, Justice Adi held a meeting with all the officials concerned on January 17, 2018.
“The conservator of Forests submitted that except dereserving of 130 acres under the notification in 1942, there was no de-reservation of forest land. He also said there was no demarcation of forest and unauthorised occupancy in BR Hills, Justice Adi said.
On February 8, Deputy Commissioner of Chamarajanagar district submitted documents along with a sketch, stating that 352 acres and six guntas were granted under Inam Abolition, nine acres and 19 guntas under regularisation of unauthorised occupation and 74 acres and two guntas under darkhast by issuing saguvali chit.
“All these and other encroached lands come under the reserve forest area. There is no provision which enables for transfer of the forest land once it is reserved. However, neither the forest department nor the revenue department has taken steps to protect the forest land. The information provided by the local residents reveals that not only illegal cultivation is going on, the forest land is also used to construct resorts. There are also coffee estates in the forest land. It is high time for the government to take action, Justice Adi said.
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