SC directs Karnataka govt to remove encroachment from Maskali forests

SC directs Karnataka govt to remove encroachment from Maskali forests
The Supreme Court has asked Karnataka government to identify encroachers from Maskali reserve forests in Chikkamagalur district and ensure their removal and rehabilitation within four months.

“It is submitted that the survey of the individual encroachments inside the re-surveyed block is being carried out and eviction will be taken up soon after the completion of survey of encroachments inside the re-surveyed block. However, no time frame has been mentioned for the re-survey and eviction. We grant four months' time to the state of Karnataka for completing the re-survey and identification of encroachers as well as a plan for their rehabilitation,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The court passed its order after being told that the state government's survey department along with the forest department has carried out and completed the re-survey of the area, demarcated the boundary and fixed the stones as mark and prepared the map of the Maskali reserve forests. The court was hearing a 1995 petition pertaining to encroachment in reserve forests.

The court-appointed Central Empowered Committee and the state government filed their reports before the bench also with regard to Sargodu and Thatkola reserve forests of the district.

On Thatkola forests, the court was informed that there were 148 encroachments over an area of 611.25 acres and all the dwelling houses have been fully demolished and cash crops existing on the forest lands have been removed.

In Sargodu forests, the court was told that there were 156 encroachers occupying 550.04 acres. Out of this, 115 encroachments existing on 402.04 acres have been cleared by evicting the encroachers. All the dwelling houses were fully demolished and cash crops also removed. Boundary consolidation has also been done by providing a Cattle Proof Trench (CPT) to the accessible segments of the boundary. Planting has also been done in the entire evicted forest area, the state government stated.

The state government also informed the court since 33 encroachments were made before 1978, those were eligible for regularisation as per approval by the central as well as state governments. However, seven persons belonging to Scheduled Tribes were granted rights as enjoined under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. As one person had filed a writ petition in the HC, the top court requested for its disposal within four months, otherwise the matter would stand automatically transferred to the apex court.

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