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Karnataka: Row over five-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ in wildlife sanctuary

The area where the statue and a small shrine were built over the last few months stands on forest land in Hoogya (also known as Hoogyam) area located near Jallipallya village.

Published: 15th November 2021 03:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2021 03:02 AM   |  A+A-

The statue of Jesus Christ inside the MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Chamarajanagar

The statue of Jesus Christ inside the MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Chamarajanagar

Express News Service

HUBBALLI:  A five-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ that has come up inside the MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Kollegal of Chamarajanagar district has become the bone of contention between wildlife activists and local residents. 

The area where the statue and a small shrine were built over the last few months stands on forest land in Hoogya (also known as Hoogyam) area located near Jallipallya village. Wildlife activists allege that the land is being encroached upon by a few locals and a statue was erected to give it a religious angle so that it is not removed. It is said that the statue was installed during the second lockdown in Karnataka.

“The encroachment of forest land is evident. If it is allowed, it will be a new shrine and a tourist spot. The area is part of MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and any such non-forestry activity must be stopped by the Forest Department officials,” demanded wildlife activists from Kollegal.

“Last year itself, there were attempts to create a small shrine. But the work was stalled after the Forest Department officials intervened. This year, during the pandemic, the works were taken up once again and the statue was installed. We demand its early relocation. There are also allegations that those who have encroached upon forest land have also tried to cultivate it and claimed that the land belongs to them,” an activist explained.

There are also allegations that a road was built illegally without the consent of the Forest Department. “It is a clear case of encroachment and the Forest Department must take quick action. The encroachers have also used heavy machinery to lay the road and the statue came up in no time. Several forest patches have either degraded or have been encroached upon in Karnataka due to religious interference. The MM Hills Sanctuary is all set to be declared as the sixth tiger reserve of Karnataka and the Forest Department must initiate action before it’s too late,” another activist demanded. 

Meanwhile, Forest officials clarified that the works were stopped earlier and said that action will be taken in case of any such encroachment. “We got to know about the statue and the locals have explained about the site being inside forest boundaries. A forest team will be deployed to have regular patrolling to ensure no such encroachment takes place,” said a senior forest official from MM Hills Sanctuary. The official, however, did not clarify on the demand to shift the statue from the forest area.
 



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