Forest dept building foolproof case on Jakkur encroachment

Forest dept building foolproof case on Jakkur encroachment

A few high-profile claimants include prominent builders

Forest dept building foolproof case on Jakkur encroachment
The Forest department is building a strong case to prove its claim that 177 acres 28 guntas land in Jakkur-Allalasandra in Bengaluru north sub-division is indeed “reserved forest” and had been encroached upon.

In an internal document, the Forest department has traced the history of the land parcel, cited various rules and Supreme Court orders to prove its point. The 177 acre 28 guntas, estimated to be valued at Rs 14,000 crore at the prevailing market rates, has some high-profile claimants including Industries Minister R V Deshpande and prominent builders like Mantri and Sobha.

According to the document, the land was notified as “Jakkur-Allalasandra Plantation State Forest” under Section 17 of the Mysore Forest Regulation XI of 1900 with effect from November 1, 1940. An attested copy of the gazette notification classifying the land as reserved forest has been procured by the department. To drive home its point that the said land had been encroached upon, the department has dealt at length with the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963. Section 23 of the Act states, “Any forest which has been notified as a state forest under the Mysore Forest Act, 1900 or as reserved forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, the Madras Forest Act, 1882 or the Hyderabad Forest Act, prior to the date on which this act comes into force shall be a reserved forest under this Act.” Bengaluru (North) sub-division Assistant Commissioner N Mahesh Babu,  who is adjudicating the case, has issued notices to the 50  “claimants” of the land  to prove that they were the title holders of the land with relevant document. The case will come up for hearing in November.

Gazette notification
The department has contended that any notified reserved forest can be de-reserved by issuing a gazette notification to the effect but only after a resolution of both Houses of the state legislature and that too after the prior approval of the Central government. No such procedure has been taken up for the 177 acre disputed land - the department contends.

Further, the department has cited as many as 25 orders of the Supreme Court right from 1961 to 2011 that the procedure (resolution of both Houses of the State legislature after the prior approval of the Central government) has to be followed for declaring reserved forest ceases to exist. The gist of the each of the 25 orders of the apex court has been furnished by the department. “Hence the current legal status of the entire area of 177 acres and 28 guntas in the village of  ‘Jakkur Plantation’ is reserved forest under the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963. Reserved Forest has full degree of protection. All non-forestry activities are prohibited in reserved forest”, the document states.

Further, apprehending that the claimants may come out with land grant records or revenue documents with mutation entries to claim the title of the land, the department has again cited several Supreme Court orders that revenue authorities were not competent to deal with property which is part of reserved forest. As many as 15 orders of the apex court have been cited with their gist in this regard. A senior officer of the forest department said they were building a water-tight case and would take it to its logical end.
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