BENGALURU:The High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to check if a resort was being constructed inside the Bhadra Reserve Forest in Chikkamagaluru and to remove any construction taking place there.
A division bench of Officiating Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B Nagarathna issued the directive while disposing of a suo motu public interest petition taken up based on newspaper reports about illegal construction in the forest.
The bench clarified that authorities should also clear any other encroachments inside the forest.
Recently, a division bench had issued a notice to the forest authorities, Chikkamagaluru Deputy Commissioner and D S Satish Gowda, a honorary wildlife warden of the Bhadra reserve forest, who has been accused of building a resort here.
The PIL stated that Satish Gowda is building a resort at a cost of Rs 2 crore by encroaching upon forest land to the extent of 50x9 sqmt besides grabbing nearly two acres on Survey No. 262, a notified deemed forest area.
Gowda, who was appointed to the post four months ago, is constructing a building on 0.75 acres between the protected forest and Masagali Reserve Forest, allegedly without obtaining permissions or no-objection certificate from the authorities concerned. He is also accused of trying to build a road leading to his property. Though Gowda has claimed that he is practising organic farming on this land, there was no sign of such activity. But he has constructed a huge pond and an electric fence around the building and even altered the course of a stream to facilitate the construction. A narrow track through the forest has been widened to a 30-ft road by cutting trees, the petition stated.
Gowda owns seven acres in Survey No. 216 in Sirivase, adjacent to the Bhadra and Masagali protected forests. He had not obtained permission for change in land use but got a building licence from the local panchayat for constructing a farmhouse on agricultural land. Hence, the Forest Department had registered an FIR against Gowda.