Forest bank to address land acquisition woes

Exchange plan to make forest land easily available for irrigation projects

Forest bank to address land acquisition woes

The Water Resources department has hit upon a novel plan to solve the problem of acquiring forest lands for its projects: Grow forest on its land and exchange it for the Forest department’s land required for implementing irrigation projects.

Disclosing this to reporters on Wednesday, Water Resources Minister M B Patil said the department would set up a forest bank.

“Land available under the bank will be exchanged for the Forest department’s land required for implementing irrigation projects. We are planning to spend Rs 500 crore for this purpose this year,” he stated.

Implementation of irrigation projects are getting delayed due to problems in acquiring forest lands. It is difficult to get clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for acquiring land. Hence, the department has decided to create a forest bank.

The MoEF has agreed for the exchange of land, but, it will not apply for the Western Ghats, Patil said.

The Water Resources department has thousands of acres of lands across the State and a land audit has been taken up, he added.

Currently, there are 78 ongoing irrigation projects and about 30 of them have been delayed for long on account of various reasons, including land acquisition and litigations. The department has set a target to complete at least 13 of them this year, Patil said.

The department will acquire land only after obtaining the consent of farmers. Market price will be given for acquired land and the displaced people will be rehabilitated. Reservation in jobs and higher education will also be given to the project-affected people, the Minister said.

Yettinahole project

Patil said the controversy over taking up Yettinahole project to supply drinking water to the parched districts of Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumkur and Bangalore rural is over.

The government has decided to implement the project and the tendering process will be taken up soon, he added.

Similarly, the government has an open mind on projects to be taken up as per the G S Paramashivaiah report. The government has recently provided facilities to a committee set up to prepare the feasibility report. “If it is found that the projects are feasible to implement, the government will go ahead and implement them,” he said.

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