BENGALURU: The Forest Department has started its investigations into the alleged violations by Chikkamagaluru Honorary Wildlife Warden Satish Gowda.
On January 13, the Chikkamagaluru forest mobile squad had booked two cases against Gowda — one for encroaching on reserve forest land and another for drawing water from a forest stream to his personal property where he is constructing a resort. This is situated between the Bhadra and Masagali reserve forests at Honnalla, Muthodi.
G Venkatesh, Assistant Conservator of Forests of the Forest Mobile Squad, Chikkamagaluru Circle, told Express that the department was now estimating the extent of violation.
As per rough estimates, Gowda has allegedly encroached upon 2-3 acres of forest land in two reserve forest areas.
Venkatesh said in the first case, Gowda has built a water pipeline from a forest stream without permission. “We are trying to estimate how much environmental damage he has caused and how he has flouted all rules. He has the temerity to build a diversion road in a deemed forest area to give connectivity to his property where he is building a luxury resort. This diversion road, measuring 150-200 metres in the Masagali Reserve, now gives direct access from his personal property to the PWD road from Muthodi to Balehonnur. Here, he has encroached an area measuring about 50x9 metres,” he added.
Venkatesh said Gowda has also grabbed nearly two acres in Survey Number 262 in a notified area that is a deemed forest. “He has not obtained permission for change in land use pattern and violated every green law,” he added.
The Forest Department is now collecting all documents, maps and making estimates as the chargesheet will be filed within 20 days. A joint survey by both the forest and revenue departments will be done in the next few days to figure out the extent of violations and how he obtained permission to even build a ‘farmhouse’ in a forest area, he said.
Local wildlife experts say that Gowda purchased two acres of land in this region in 2007 and another four acres in 2010, and it was then that he took up development works.
The area does not have any hotel or resort except a forest guest house and a tent camping facility.
“No resorts or stay homes are there nearby... exercising political influence and browbeating forest guards and other staffers, he went ahead encroaching upon forest land and drawing water, violating many existing provisions in the Karnataka Forest Act, Wildlife Protection Act and Forest Conservation Act,” a source said.
Building only a farmhouse: Satish
Honorary Wildlife Warden Satish Gowda has claimed that he is into organic farming and not into any commercial activity in the reserve forest regions. “I am building only a farmhouse for which I have got permission from the Sirivase Gram Panchayat,” he added.