Residents of Ragi Kallapur village on Dharwad-Haliyal road have been put to hardship following the Forest Department fencing a major portion of the village.
This has resulted in villagers having to walk around 2 km extra to reach the main road connecting Dharwad. The road leading to the village is closed due to the fencing, and what worse is that forest officials are asking villagers to vacate the land.
According to Forest Department officials, the area of about 17 acres and 13 guntas falls under forest cover.
The village, under the Hallikeri gram panchayat, was notified as a reserve forest area in 1912. For the past five years the authorities have been trying to evict villagers, a source said.
There were around 160 houses and huts in the area, but over the last three years many have left the village in search of work. Presently, there are only around 20 to 25 people residing in the village, most of who are small-time cultivators. Recently, when locals tried to put up a board with the name of the village, forest officials stopped the same.
Taking exception to the move by the Forest Department, TP member Ramanna Ghatin asked authorities to inform the taluk panchayat of their activities as the village is also a part of the revenue area, wherein people are given government facilities like ration cards, voters’ card and the TP has identified land in the region to build Ashraya houses. Despite this, forest guards continue to threaten villagers to vacate the place. The matter will be taken up with the district administration, he said.
When contacted, Assistant RFO K V Bhat said the land belonged to the Forest Department and that the fencing was done for bamboo plantation. “A few residents have been asked to come with the documents, which would help shifting them legally,” he said.