BENGALURU: If forest lands are allowed to be encroached further, the days are not far when extinction of forests will be a reality in the entire state of Karnataka, said Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi in his report to the government. He has recommended disciplinary action against the officials concerned for granting forest land to ineligible persons in Sagar taluk, represented by Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa.
In Shivamogga circle alone, as many as 51,892 cases are registered for encroachment of 86,161.81 acres of forest land, which is the highest in the state. As per information provided by the forest department to the Upa Lokayukta, there are about 50,172 cases of encroachment which are yet to be dealt with.In his report on February 28, Justice Adi recommended disciplinary action against several officials including Assistant Conservator of Forest Venkatesh, Sagar Division; H S Ganapathi, Taluk Social Welfare Officer, Sagar; Assistant Conservator of Forests G R Keshavamurthy (in-charge), Hosanagar division; Social Welfare Officer Mallikarjun, Hosanagar taluk; former Assistant Conservator of Forest R D Naik, Sorab; Assistant Director Ravi, Social Welfare Office, Sorab; Assistant Director Srinivas, Social Welfare office, Shikaripur and Assistant Conservator of Forest H M Jagadish Kumar, Shikaripur, Shivamogga district.
These officials, being members of the Sub-Divisional Level Committee, illegally recommended the names of persons to the District Level Committee for the grant of forest land in sub-divisions of Shivamogga by receiving bribe. However, in their reply to the Upa Lokayukta, the officials denied allegations of illegal grant of forest lands, the report says. “They were accused of conferring occupancy rights in favour of persons chosen by vested interests, which may be with political intention to favour them,” Upa Lokayukta said. A G Yogendra, a former forest officer, has brought to the notice of Upa Lokayukta that the DLC had granted about 2,000 acres of forest land to ineligible persons.