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6 lakh hectares of forest land in Karnataka to be given to poor

Forest, Revenue depts at loggerheads; parts of it lie in jumbo corridor 

Published: 21st September 2021 06:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2021 06:05 AM   |  A+A-

Assembly session in progress in Vidhana Soudha on Monday

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Six lakh hectares of land that were earlier considered ‘deemed forest’ will be returned to the Revenue department, to be given to the poor, Revenue Minister R Ashoka said, in response to a question in the assembly on Monday.

Ashoka said that houses have been constructed, or cultivation has been taken up on more than nine lakh hectares of forest land, or areas close to forest land. Deputy Commissioners term these lands “deemed forest” which the Forest department is claiming as its own.

“Around six lakh hectares need to be returned. Former forest minister Anand Singh had assured us that the land would be handed back to the Revenue department. We need to file an affidavit before the Supreme Court, only then will the land be ours, and we can give it to the poor either for construction of houses or farming. Our government is committed to it,’’ he said.

However, Forest department officials differ with Ashoka’s statement. They say the ‘deemed forest’ land, as per the Karnataka Forest Department and affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, is 3.9 lakh hectares. This was approved by the cabinet in 2017, and is said to be left untouched, a senior official told TNIE.

“The six lakh hectares which minister Ashoka referred to is not deemed, but some areas are part of an elephant corridor, there are eco-sensitive zones and buffer zones, so everything cannot be occupied. A proper assessment will need to be done for details of each survey number before occupying the land. Land should be identified and chosen wisely, especially with rising man-animal conflict and decreasing green cover leading to climate change,” the official added.

In 2014, an affidavit showed deemed forest land in Karnataka to be 9.9 lakh hectares. But since anomalies were found, a resurvey was done, and a final report was prepared in 2017 and submitted to the State government and Supreme Court, which showed that deemed forest land is 3.9 lakh hectares. The survey was done by the DCs, Deputy Conservator of Forests and land record officials.

As per the government of India and apex court orders, land is said to be ‘deemed forest’ when there is over 40 per cent of natural growth per hectare, plantation is undertaken by the forest department and RTC records pre-dating June 1981 state that it is forest land.



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