The big land retrieval challenge

Just 7 per cent success in 7 months since Feb; Litigations delay process

The Revenue department has taken up a massive drive to retrieve illegally occupied public land in the State. But the progress on the ground is just about seven per cent of the total target from February to October.

The department has to retrieve four types of land - encroached forest land, revenue land, Muzrai land and Wakf land. The Revenue department has begun removing the encroachers and periodically submitting its report to the Karnataka Public Land Corporation (KPLC) and the High Court of Karnataka.

But in case of the Wakf and Muzrai departments, the process of identifying the encroached land has just begun and the Forest department has been asked to keep its action plan ready by this month-end.

The monthly progress report will have to be submitted to the court as the Samaja Parivartana Samudaya headed by S R Hiremath has moved the court demanding a direction to the government to retrieve lost public land. Though the progress reports have to be submitted to the KPLC, the ownership of land continues to be with the respective departments.

As per the action plan submitted to the court as on October 30 this year, the total extent of revenue land to be rid of encroachments in 30 districts is 4,38,739 acres, involving lakhs of cases. So far the percentage of removal of encroachment is 6.97 per cent. The KPLC is yet to get the action plan by other departments, including the Forest department.

The task of reclaiming revenue land is vested with the deputy commissioners and tahsildars. While the least progress in terms of taking possession of encroached land is in Dakshina Kannada - 0.07 per cent, the progress is highest in Tumakuru - 34.69 per cent. In the Malnad districts - Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan - the progress is slow. Compared to Bengaluru Urban (4.96 per cent), the progress in Bengaluru Rural district is faster - 27.14 per cent.

KPLC Managing Director M V Savithri said though retrieving encroached land is possible, at times it becomes slow, mainly due to litigations. There are around 6,000 lakes, including 989 in Bengaluru city. Their details with the sketches and Google map are being uploaded on the official website - www.kplc.kar.nic.in.

“We are first evicting the big encroachers. Later come others who have less than three acres of land. On priority, the details of Bengaluru lakes, along with the names of encroachers, are being uploaded. The intention is to make the details available in public domain. Soon, the details of all lakes in the State will be made available. Details of every public property will be available online,” she added.

Savithri said Bengaluru alone has 57 Muzrai temples. Some of the temples like the Kote Venkataramanaswamy temple in KR Market area have huge landed properties. The Muzrai department has the responsibility of not only evicting the encroachers but also protecting its properties. Even the Wakf department has similar responsibility, she said.

The officer said unlike in the past, now KPLC is not auctioning retrieved land.
“Land is precious and the government needs land for various purposes including schools and hospitals. We have sent a proposal to the government to adopt public private partnership model to develop land, but it will not be sold at any cost,” the MD said.

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