BENGALURU: In a temporary setback to people fighting to conserve the Kappatagudda forest, the High Court on Wednesday passed an interim order restraining the Department of Forest, Environment and Ecology from declaring the forest area in Gadag district as a ‘conservation reserve’.
Hearing two public interest litigations filed by Venkatesh Dasar and others from Gadag, a division bench of Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice R B Budihal passed an order restraining the forest department from issuing the final notification in pursuance to the decision taken in the public consultation meeting held at Dambala village in Mundarigi taluk, Gadag district, on January 16.
The petitioners contended that the authorities were proceeding to declare the area as a conservation reserve, ignoring the interests of lakhs of people living around the area. They stated that there are 33 villages with 1.17 lakh people surrounded by Kappatagudda, as per a 2011-12 census.
The state government has already allowed more than 250 wind power energy projects to come up in the forest area. Most of the villagers are solely depending on farming, cattle, and sheep rearing for their livelihood. Both will be affected if the area is declared as a conservation reserve, they pleaded.
The petitioners also argued that, in the consultation meeting held on January 16, 2017, local politicians, leaders and others who have vested interest took part and no public were allowed to speak.