MLAs unite to oppose Task Force report

They are against reclaiming encroached forest land in Malnad

There was unusual unity among members of the Congress, BJP and JD(S) in the Assembly on Wednesday, while opposing the State government’s move to implement the report of the Task Force for Recovery of Public Lands, especially on reclaiming forest land allegedly encroached in the Malnad region.

Though the government has not accepted the report, Forest officials, especially those in Malnad region, are implementing it. Eviction notices are being issued to people citing the Task Force report. Any report has to be accepted by the State cabinet before implementing it, the members said.

The Task Force was headed by former bureaucrat V Balasubramanian. About 13 lakh acres of government land has been encroached upon in the State.

The Forest officials had recently taken up the process to evict the encroachers, following a Supreme Court order.

When Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa sought to know from Law Minister T B Jayachandra whether the government had accepted the report, the minister chose to remain silent. Leader of the Opposition and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar said the previous government headed by him had not accepted the report.

Y S V Datta of the JD(S) said the Assembly should pass a resolution, stating that farmers should not be evicted in the name of clearing encroachments.

Hiremath criticised

Senior Congress leader Ramesh Kumar criticised S R Hiremath of the Samaja Parivartana Samudaya for making allegations that the Speaker was coming in the way of clearing encroachments.

“The Speaker cannot defend himself when an allegation is made. Hence, the House should defend him and express its solidarity,” he stated.

“Hiremath has become an extra-constitutional authority. The chief minister should consult him before selecting his cabinet colleagues and posting IAS officers. The chief secretary has to consult him before preparing confidential reports of the officers,” Kumar said.

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