Proceedings against coffee planters in BRT tiger reserve stayed

Proceedings against coffee planters in BRT tiger reserve stayed

The High Court of Karnataka stayed the proceedings against Emerald Haven Estates Ltd accused of encroaching upon a tiger reserve.

The forest department had issued a notice to the company saying that Bedaguli Coffee Estate owned by it had encroached upon 327.1 acres of land inside the Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Hearing the petition, a division bench comprising Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar restrained the forest department and the assistant conservator of forest, Chamarajnagar from interfering in the petitioner’s plantation activities.

Besides cultivating coffee, the estate also grows pepper and certain seasonal fruits and has between 300 and 400 workers.

The petitioner had moved the court earlier too challenging the chief conservator of forest’s (CCF) notice asking them to vacate the tiger reserve area as their activity was not compatible with the reserve forest area meant for wildlife.  However, a division bench, in its order, had said the CCF cannot pass an order as it is the jurisdiction of the Forest Settlement Officer and that the forest officers have no jurisdiction to determine the rights.

The forest department, however, informed the court that the coffee plantation itself is an encroachment upon forest land and that the company does not have any documents to prove its ownership.

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