'Survey of deemed forest land completed'

The government has completed the survey of lands which have the features of forest (deemed forest) and the report would be placed before the State Cabinet at its next meeting, Forest Minister Ramanath Rai said on Wednesday.

Addressing the media here, he said the survey had been conducted jointly by the forest and revenue departments. It is not possible to disclose the extent of land to be left out of the list of deemed forest, he said.

There has been strong opposition from the legislators of the Malnad region to evicting forest encroachers on the grounds that farmers would be left with no vocation if they were moved out.

Rai said the survey was conducted on the directions of a high-powered committee of the Supreme Court. The report will go before the Cabinet and later to the court, he said.

The total extent of deemed forest land is 9,94,881 hectares, according to the expert committee. Lands which have no trees and agricultural land have been also included in the list. With the public objecting to it, the government took up the survey. Revenue land which have no features of forest will be removed from the deemed forest list, he said.

The minister said only farmers who had encroached upon more than three acres would be evicted. Those who have been cultivating the land prior to 1978 but within 1980 would not be disturbed, he added.

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