Meeting to discuss farmers' eviction from forest land

Meeting to discuss farmers' eviction from forest land

The State government will convene a meeting of legislators and officials on June 10 to bail out hundreds of farmers who had been issued eviction notices for allegedly encroaching upon forest land.

Replying to questions by several members during zero hour in the Assembly on Wednesday, Forest Minister Ramanath Rai and Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the notices had been issued as per the directions of the courts. The government, at the same time, would take all possible steps to come to the rescue of the farmers, they said.

Earlier, legislators cutting across party lines, especially those from the Malnad region, took serious exception to the State Forest Department issuing notices to farmers for allegedly encroaching upon forest land and demanded that the government immediately stop their eviction.

Sringeri MLA D N Jeevaraj said the Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACFs) had been issuing notices, asking the farmers to appear for the hearing on a stipulated date.
Many of the farmers had been cultivating land for several decades and they would lose their livelihood if evicted, he said.

BJP Floor Leader Jagadish Shettar, party MLA C T Ravi, KJP leader B S Yeddyurappa and others joined the issue and demanded that the government immediately direct the officials to stop issuing notices. Former minister Govinda Karjol even staged a brief dharna in the well of the House, seeking assurance from the Forest Minister in this regard. Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa suggested that the government convene a meeting of legislators and officials of the department concerned at the earliest.

The Forest Department's move follows a recent High Court of Karnataka direction   to clear all encroachments and recover the forest land. The encroachment is rampant in these three districts.

As per the V Balasubramanian report on encroachment of government land, about 1.6 lakh acres of forest land have been encroached upon in the State.

Chikmagalur tops the list of districts with maximum encroachment of forest lands.

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