Govt yet to reclaim Kudremukh land

Govt yet to reclaim Kudremukh land

The state government has now initiated efforts to recover land once leased to the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd (KIOCL) for mining in Kudremukh National Park (KNP).

Based on last month’s directions by the Karnataka High Court which disposed of the petition filed by Wildlife First, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Environment, Forests and Ecology, T M Vijay Bhaskar, conducted a detailed enquiry and ordered the Chikkamagaluru deputy commissioner to recover revenue land. He also directed the forest department to stop all resort work being undertaken by the KIOCL and Alva’s Kudremukh Nisargadhama (AKN) on the subleased Sahyadri Guest House and 30 ‘D’ Type cottages.

The petitioners, Wildlife First, had moved the High Court since nothing was done even a decade after the Supreme Court ordered the state government to recover the land. In 2015, the KIOCL and the AKN started work on creating an acclaimed eco-tourism resort on the same area.

The areas in contention are 4,605 hectares (ha) of land comprising 3,203.55 ha of reserved forest, 1,220.03 ha of revenue land and 67.11 ha of kharab (wasteland) land including 114.31 ha of patta land. The Supreme Court in 2001 had ordered stopping of all commercial mining activities in KNP in 2001. It also gave temporary working permission to KIOCL only till 2005 in the already broken up area. After this KIOCL was to handover the land back to the state government.

Vijay Bhaskar, in his 20-page order, had also directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF)-wildlife, to stop work of the eco-tourism resort in the KIOCL building as it is  part of the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

Though no time line has been set by ACS, PCCF B J Hosmath said work had already started. He said that they were going through the order copy in detail which they received three days back. “We are exerting pressure on the revenue department to recover the land at the earliest. He also added that though they were informed that Alvas and KIOCL had stopped their resort work, a team will soon inspect and seal the building space.

Commercial activities
The high court, in its July 22, 2016 order, had noted that KIOCL had no authority to retain possession of land, after the expiry of the lease agreement. It also pointed out that commercial activities were still being run in the area, which was a violation the of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Supreme Court orders. It also concluded that the Sahyadri Bhavan and 30 D Type Quarters leased to Alvas Resort are within the ESZ and a violation of ESZ rules. It also points out that KIOCL has no powers to give the land for any commercial resort.
DH News Service

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