BENGALURU: The reserve forests around Manchanabele backwaters in the backdrop of Savandurga Hills make it one of the most beautiful landscapes near Bengaluru. In a bid to consolidate the forest landscape, the state forest department has cleared the encroachments in these pristine forests and carried out a greening programme suitable to the local ecology.
The Basavanatara Reserve Forest is one of the oldest ones in Karnataka and is home to many a Malenadu floral and faunal species. However, for many years, a small part of the forestland had been encroached on in Averrahally village, Survey No. 15 and 16, near Manchanabele backwaters in Magadi taluk.G Venkatesh, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru (South), and his team of 35 members recovered 25 acres of land from encroachers and cleared the land. Further, they took up plantation of saplings suited to this region.
Venkatesh said, “Although cases were filed by the forest department in 2004-05 and 2011, nobody had taken any action even after the eviction orders were passed. It took us two days to remove the encroachments from these two survey numbers. This was done after all the records were checked and spot inspections carried out.”
In this part of Magadi taluk, the land value is very high — one acre is worth Rs 2 crore. Venkatesh said, “One person with connections to Sandalwood, who had encroached upon 3.6 acres, had even sold the forest land for Rs 3-4 crore to another person. The eviction and recovery process which took four days was completed on Friday. Later, 400 pits per acre were dug for planting of 2,000 saplings. Nearly 8-10 species were planted which included Ficus (3-4 varieties), jamun, bamboo, jackfruit, banyan, etc.”
The Basavanatara Reserve Forest is a verdant landscape of 1,417 acres and was declared a reserve forest in 1935. Presently, the gate to the forest is closed and the road to the backwaters too has been closed by Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. This is basically to keep the area pristine and avoid any disturbances from people or any untoward incidents.The ACF said that tourists are prohibited from entering the forest area as it is difficult to control them. Only the local people from Averrhally village are allowed. Further, people have been found dumping all sorts of plastic and other food waste near the backwaters, he said.