BANGALORE: Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa on Tuesday issued a veiled threat to forest officials who harass farmers by threatening to evict them under the pretext of illegal encroachments.
The speaker’s warning came during a debate on the demands for the Revenue Department when D N Jeevaraj charged that farmers in his constituency (Sringeri) are facing eviction despite having valid revenue records.
He said several families living in many villages in Sringeri taluk for many generations are being threatened by the forest officials to vacate their places.
Exhibiting the notices served by the forest officers to these families to vacate their houses and stop cultivating lands despite having valid revenue records, he said, “The future of these villagers is uncertain.”
Wondering that revenue officials in the district are behaving like subordinates to forest officials, Jeevaraj said farmers with small holdings are being evicted contrary to the state government’s decision.
Revenue Minister V Srinivasa Prasad had earlier said farmers with land holdings below five acres would not be evicted.
Intervening in the debate, Kagodu Thimmappa, to the surprise of the House, warned, “I will not allow this as long as I am sitting in this chair.” Endorsing Jeevaraj’s views, Thimmappa said, “I have also received complaints from villagers in my Assembly segment during a review meeting and warned the forest officials about it.”
Advising the government to set up a committee in each taluk and collect data on farmers who have taken up cultivation since 1978 on land allegedly owned by the Forest Department, he said,”As long as their holdings are regularised, the farmers should not be subjected to any hardship or harassment.”
As DCs in all the districts are believed to be serving notices on the basis of the Subramanian Committee report, Thimmappa wanted to know from the government whether it has accepted the report. “Unless the government accepts the report, the DCs cannot initiate any action,” he said.
Ramesh Kumar also criticised the forest officials for serving notices on the farmers based on a committee report “which has not been accepted by the government.”
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, “The minister would clear the picture on the matter during his reply.”