Villagers of HD Kote have no objections to their village being declared as ES

A public meeting of the State Level Executive Committee for Eco-Sensitive Areas (ESAs), held in Mysuru, concluded in little over ten minutes, on Thursday.

During the visit of the Committee, constituted to collect public opinion regarding the implementation of the Kasthurirangan report on Western Ghats, no objections were raised in the district.

Member secretary of State Level Executive Committee for Eco-Sensitive Areas R K Singh, Deputy Commissioner C Shikha, Deputy Conservator of Forests V Karikalan, were part of the meeting.

As per the report, 49 villages were identified for declaring them as ESAs in H D Kote taluk of the district. However, out of the 49 villages, 45 villages have already been notified as core or buffer zones (Eco-Sensitive Zones) of Bandipura Tiger Reserve (26 villages) and Nagarahole National Park (19 villages). Owing to the existing declaration of the villages as ESZs, no public hearing was held.

Field verification and public hearing was required for only four villages, which fall outside the zone of Tiger reserves, namely, Honnurkuppe, Thenekallu, Chikkakundur and Ankapura villages. It was learnt during field inspections that Chikkakundur and Ankapura villages were part of Bandipur Reserve, while Thenekallu was inside the D B Kuppe Range of Nagarahole.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, and Member Secretary District Level Expert Committee, Mysuru division, V Karikalan said that around 20 families resided in Honnurukuppe villages, located in Kabini backwaters in H D Kote taluk. “A public hearing was conducted at the village regarding the declaration of ESA. The village, which has a population of around 95 persons have not objected to the declaration,” he said.
There is no opposition to declare the 49 villages as ESA’s, he added.
In Hassan district, residents of villages, which are recommended to be declared as ESAs are not even aware of the contents of the report. This, along with contradicting reports in the media has added to the confusion. In such a situation, recommendations of the report cannot be accepted, said representatives present at a public meeting, in Hassan, on Thursday.

The meeting was held to allow the public to submit their objections regarding implementation of the report. Speaking at the meeting, activist Kishore Kumar, welcomed the recommendations of the report, such as the ban on mining activity in the area.
“However, it is not right to allow hydro projects in the Western Ghats, which escalates conflict between humans and elephants,” he said.

Madan, who lost his land during the construction of a reservoir, said that the land allotted for such land losers too had been identified as Forest land.
“We had applied for land four years ago, which has not been sanctioned. What will be our fate, if the report is implemented?” he questioned.

President of Devalakere Grama Panchayat said that there were houses in regions identified as forest area in the report. “Moreover, funds have been sanctioned for the construction of houses in such villages. What will the fate of the villagers?” he said.
Officials present in the meeting clarified some of the doubts raised by the public during the meeting. Deputy Commissioner Anbu Kumar said that the concerns raised during the meeting will be forwarded to the government, so that it can take a stand on the issue.
MLA Kumaraswamy said that the skepticism against the report was due to the problems faced by farmers in the fringes of forests, for the past several years. “The report has to be implemented without causing inconveniences for people living in the region,” he said.
DH News Service

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