Evict Masakali forest encroachers in 4 months: SC to Karnataka

Evict Masakali forest encroachers in 4 months: SC to Karnataka

The Supreme Court has ordered Karnataka to identify encroachers in the Masakali reserve forest, Chikkamagaluru 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 the order after being informed that the state government’s Department of Survey, Settlement and Land Records, along with the
Forest Department, had 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 Masakali reserve forest. The court was hearing a 1995 petition pertaining to encroachment in reserve forests.

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

In the Thatkola forest, the court was informed, there are 148 encroachments on 611.25 acres and all the dwelling houses have been fully demolished and cash crops on the forest land removed. In the Sargodu forest, 156 encroachers are occupying 550.04 acres. Out of this, 115 encroachments on 402.04 acres have been cleared by evicting the encroachers. All the dwelling houses were fully demolished and cash crops removed. Boundary consolidation also has been done by providing a Cattle Proof Trench (CPT) to the accessible segments of the boundary. Planting also has been done in the entire evicted forest area, the government said.

The government also informed the court that 33 encroachments that happened before 1978 were eligible for regularisation as approved by the Central and state governments.

However, seven people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes were granted rights as enjoined under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. As one person had filed a writ petition in the high court, 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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