Cabinet extends panel's term to identify deemed forest areas

Cabinet extends panel's term to identify deemed forest areas

The State Cabinet on Tuesday is learnt to have decided to extend the term of a joint committee constituted to identify the total extent of deemed forest in the State by two months.

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, it was decided that the panel comprising members of the forest and revenue departments be given time till March 31 to provide clarifications and submit the final report.

An initial report prepared by an expert panel last year had categorised 9,94,881 hectares as deemed forest. However, a few departments, including the revenue, water resources and public works, did not agree with the parameters fixed by the expert panel to classify land as deemed forest.

Land which had no features of forest had been classified as deemed forest, it was felt. The government was also under pressure from the public and legislators, especially from the Malnad region, against evicting “encroachers” from the deemed forest areas.

A joint committee was then constituted to revisit the survey. The joint panel had recommended that the total extent of deemed forest in the State be reduced to 5,00,611 hectares. At the Cabinet meeting, it was decided that the joint panel should be given more time to clarify certain points.

The State government will also have to file a status report on deemed forest before the Supreme Court soon.

There was no briefing after the Cabinet meeting as the model code of conduct is in force for the zilla panchayat/ taluk panchayat polls.

205 new courts

The Cabinet also decided to establish 205 courts, including district, magistrate and civil courts, across the State at a cost of Rs 120.74 crore. The State government will bear the full cost as a request to bear 50 per cent of the expenditure had been turned down by the Centre, sources added.

Rental for IT firms cut

On the request of Information Technologies (IT) companies, the Cabinet on Tuesday decided to reduce the rentals for IT units which have been allotted space at the Hubballi IT Park from Rs 20 per sq ft per month to Rs 10 per sq ft per month, the sources said.

The Cabinet on Tuesday, once again, failed to take a decision on the implementation of the State Cultural Policy. A six-member Cultural Policy Committee, headed by Baraguru Ramachandrappa, had submitted its recommendations to the government in June 2014. The panel had made 44 recommendations, including decentralisation of the Department of Kannada and Culture, restricting moral policing, setting up three academies and a tribal university. However, the government had been dilly-dallying in implementing the recommendations.

The Cabinet decided to appoint Additional Chief Secretary V Umesh as member of the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal.

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