BMRCL proposed to acquire land where jumbo attacked CRPF men

The land in the Bhuthanahalli reserve forest, where two CRPF men were trampled to death by a wild elephant on Sunday, was the topic of a heated debate at a high-level meeting held in the Vidhana Soudha on Friday.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) as well as Forest and Urban Development departments. The BMRCL had proposed to acquire the land for setting up a depot for Metro trains. The elephant and its companion — a sub-adult tusker — had reached the reserve forest after crossing the Roerich and Devika Rani Estate, which is spread over 14 acres. The territory between the estate and the CRPF camp, which the BMRCL has proposed to acquire, is an elephant corridor. The corridor has been notified for over two decades as it connects elephants migrating to Tamil Nadu and back, a senior forest official, who attended the meeting, said on condition of anonymity.

The Forest Department strongly objected to the BMRCL’s proposal but officials from other departments were not convinced and raised doubts over the movement of elephants. “We had also objected to the BMRCL’s proposal on acquiring 6.33 hectares of land in survey numbers 124 and 126 as recently as two months ago. Though the width of the corridor has narrowed at many places, it is still a prime forest land. The corridor’s extent has shrunk further because of the ongoing widening of National Highway 209,” the official said.

The Forest Department hopes the BMRCL and the state government will drop the idea of acquiring the land following the elephant attack. “The BMRCL had proposed to hand over land in Vijayapura in lieu of this forest land. Why can’t it purchase or acquire private land under TDR,” the official wondered.

The 220-acre land belonging to the CRPF is also under question. The land was given to the paramilitary force for just Rs 98 lakh on the condition that it maintain a buffer zone from the elephant-proof trench. The CRPF, however, failed to do that, which led to the elephant attack. “We had asked the CRPF to look for land elsewhere as its camp is in the elephant corridor but it paid no attention. The Mines and Geology Department, too, is keen on this land because of the presence of granite in the region,” the official said.
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