Forest department to settle land dispute with BNP tribals soon

Move aimed at preventing land sharks from grabbing land

Forest department to settle land dispute with BNP tribals soon

The Forest department has finally woken up to the fact that land sharks are trying to take advantage of its dispute with tribals over the ownership of 350 acres of land near Bannerghatta National Park, on the outskirts of the City.

After learning that land developers were eyeing the disputed property, the Forest Department has now decided to hold a meeting with tribals, in a couple of days, to resolve the issue. This is being done to ensure that the pricey land does not fall into the hands of real estate developers.

A senior forest department official told Deccan Herald that it had come to their notice that many land developers were eyeing the land and some had even visited the site, despite the fact that the disputed land was part of the Bannerghatta National Park.

“A meeting with tribals will be held this week to settle the matter at the earliest. Over 225 tribal families reside in the BNP. Protecting the disputed land is important as Bannerghatta Road and surrounding areas are real estate hotspots. On November 15, 2014 we had cleared encroachments in Weavers’ Colony were people had constructed 120 houses,” he added.

The official recollected that then government of Mysore on January 29, 1962, had notified 350 acres in Ragihalli State Forest to establish a colony for settlement and rehabilitation of Hakki Pikki and Iruliga tribals. However, a field survey by the forest department in 1990s revealed that the actual land allotted for the purpose was 396 acres.

The additional 46 acres is at Bhutanahalli in survey no 120 in Ragihalli Forest, which is part of the BNP. The tribals had occupied more land at Bannerghatta Kaval survey no 1 and Bhutanahalli survey no 120. To sort out the dispute over the ownership of the said lands, a meeting was held with the chief secretary in 2012. The Ministry of Environment and Forests too sought clarification about the case in 2012 and 2013.

Last week, over 50 people from the Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society met Forest and Ecology Minister Ramanath Rai and gave him a memorandum. They stated that Karnataka High Court in 2010 had directed the government to settle the matter at the earliest, but till date no action had been taken.

They demanded that a ‘No Development Zone’ be created three kilometres from the BNP boundary to prevent land exploitation in the eco-sensitive zone. They also urged that the land be given to tribals for housing, agriculture, apiculture and horticulture.

During the meeting, the minister reportedly assured the tribals that they would not be evicted and the land dispute would be settled soon.

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