Official in the Dock for Raising Questions

Published: 20th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2015 05:04 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: A senior forest official who questioned the allotment of two acres of land in the buffer zone of the Turahalli forest for the actor Vishnuvardhan memorial has attracted disciplinary action.

Last month, a public interest petition was filed over the allotment of two acres in Mylasandra, Kengeri hobli, for the memorial.

Now, Additional Chief Secretary of Forests Madan Gopal has issued a show-cause notice to Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Land Records) Hari Kumar Jha, who had recommended action against revenue officials for clearing the land without the Forest Department’s permission.

Madan Gopal refused to elaborate on the matter, saying the the case was sub judice. “We will file the necessary affidavits in court and everybody will come to know of our stand. Regarding Jha, he has violated all procedural rules and as a government officer, he is bound by conduct rules.

“There has been a procedural lapse on his part. Three meetings were held on this issue before the allotment of the land. The chief minister, the law secretary and all department officials concerned attended it. Only then was the decision taken,” he said. He said Jha had not taken any of this into consideration before writing to the CCF, Bengaluru Circle.

Forest officials described the government’s move as “surprising and shocking”. “The government went ahead with the foundation stone laying function even as the court was hearing a PIL on the matter. How do you expect us to be protectors of forest lands when the government itself is flouting rules, giving away land for political reasons,” an official told Express.

Another forest official said, “This buffer zone was an area of good green cover and could have been a deemed forest. The government’s action is demoralising. We need the government’s support in protecting our remaining forests,” the official said. Jha said he would reply to the  notice in two or three days. He said it was “an internal matter” and added that the additional chief secretary has not questioned him over the contents of his letter.

Environmentalist Narayan Murthy, who was responsible for greening the Hanumagiri Hills that has now been grabbed by real estate sharks, said setting up the memorial just 100 metres from the Turahalli forest will sound the death knell for the remaining green cover of the city. “What was the need to allot land in the buffer zone? They could have given (land) elsewhere or in Mysuru. Here, it is a case of the fence eating the crop,” he said.

Bharathi Disturbed by Row

Bharathi, Kannada film star and wife of the late actor Vishnuvardhan, said she was disturbed by the controversy. “We were never particular about where the land should be allotted. I just wanted land that was clear in all legal aspects. However, with the PIL, it does not seem like our project will take off in the coming days. We have been waiting for such a long time. I feel somebody is deliberately doing this and I really don’t understand the background here,” she said. She added that when the land was allotted, the officials had said it was a revenue land that did not belong to the Forest Department but as it was in the buffer zone, the department’s permission would be taken.


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