Forest minister defends Deshpande over 'land grab'

Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment Ramanath Rai on Friday defended his Cabinet colleague and Industries Minister R V Deshpande who is facing charges of encroachment of forest land at Jakkur here.

“It is revenue land and not forest land as alleged by the JD(S). Moreover, the law will take its course,” he told the media. The minister was speaking after taking part in a function organised to give away Gandhi Grama Puraskara awards at Vidhana Soudha. JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy had charged that Deshpande had encroached upon forest land worth crores of rupees. A piece of land which Deshpande claims to be the owner is part of Jakkur plantation area which was declared a forest in 1940.

The Bengaluru urban district revenue authorities had recently issued notice to Deshpande and others who are claiming to be the owners of the land to prove their ownership.

Asked about the JD(S)’ charge that the forest department has failed to protect its land from encroachers, Rai said the department was aware of its responsibilities and that there was no need for it to take lessons from anybody on protecting its lands.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, said he will be able to react only after going through a report on the issue.

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