Govt working with eyes half closed: Speaker

Slams order on evicting forest dwellers, demands extension of deadline

Govt working with eyes half closed: Speaker
Describing as “illogical” a government order issued in June 2014 to evict people from forest land, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Kagodu Thimmappa on Monday said he would speak to the government on extending the deadline for forcing out the “encroachers”.

The Speaker, who is a Congress MLA from Sagar in Shivamogga district, criticised both the present government and the previous dispensation led by the BJP. “While the previous government worked with its eyes shut, this government appears to be functioning with half-closed eyes,” he remarked. He criticised the government for issuing the order which said the forest department must evict people from forest land.

“As per the Indian Forest Act, the government should first set up a forest rights committee to ascertain who is a legitimate (occupant) and who is not. In most parts of the State, these committees have not been set up. Without forming these committees, it is impossible to implement the GO which has set the December deadline for evicting people from the forest land,” Thimmappa said.

On the Supreme Court verdict which stated that the government must evict people living on forest land, the Speaker said that the government was in the soup because its lawyers “failed” to effectively argue the need to protect the rights of people. He said he would shortly call a meeting of Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai, Revenue Minister V Srinivas Prasad and Law Minister T B Jayachandra to discuss the issue.

Earlier, Thimmappa expressed disappointment over not much business being undertaken in the Belagavi session which ended on Saturday. “The issues related to forest land were pending, so was the discussion on BPL cards and the compensation to people who have been affected by floods and drought in the State,” he said.

The Speaker defended his ruling to disallow discussion on the corruption charges against three ministers, as demanded by the BJP. Insisting that the ruling was not politically motivated, he said the decision was taken strictly as per the legislature rules.

“Once a case is pending with a judicial or quasi-judicial body, we cannot discuss it. This was the same defence exercised by the (erstwhile) BJP government when the Congress wanted to discuss the corruption charges levelled against Yeddyurappa,” he explained.

“Besides, even a fool can say that the cases against the three ministers are old. As per the rules, the issue should be recent and not as old as three years to be discussed.”

Renovation of Assembly
Meanwhile, Thimmappa went on, the work to renovate the Legislative Assembly will be completed by January 15. The renovation is being carried out at Rs 17 crore. “There are some minor things which need to be fixed like microphones and their audibility and some small civil works. But the renovation would be over by January 15 before the joint session of the legislature begins,” he said.

The government is spending Rs five crore on civil works inside the House and Rs 12 crore on electrical works.
Legislature to get its own TV channels
A proposal to ban private television channels in both the Legislative Assembly and the Council is being seriously considered, Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa reaffirmed on Monday.

The legislature is also considering setting up its own television channels to relay the proceedings of both the Houses. “We have obtained details from the Centre on the centralised manner by which the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have their own TV channels.We have sent these details to the Information Department for consideration,” he said.

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