Revenue dept claims stake on forest land, cabinet to discuss issue today

Karnataka forest department has been fighting a long battle to recover 96.12 acres of forest land from revenue department in Machohalli, part of Machohalli Reserve Forest.

The fate of this forest patch will now be decided in the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

The revenue department sought an approval to reserve 19.20 acres of land in survey number 81 of Machohalli village, Dasanapura hobli, out of 96.12 acres as government kharab gomal land for five public purposes. It also sought approval to 58.20 acres on lease to 36 private educational institutions.

However, the forest department has opposed the proposal.

"The state government is celebrating 2017 as a year of the wild and is working on creating a tableau to showcase its wildlife at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. But it is unable to hand over 96.12 acres of land back to the forest department," said a senior forest department official.

The forest department has raised objection to the granting of forest land for public purposes many a time in the past. Locals and environmentalists also say that the land should be retained as a forest patch.

The 145 acre of land houses over 1,000 native tree species including state tree - sandalwood. The reserve forest patch connects Magadi and Savandurga forests. It is also home to peafowls, black-naped hare and another Schedule I and II species, protected under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Additional principal chief conservator of forests (working plan) R K Singh in a letter dated November 30, 2017, (numbered 6/2017- 18) raised objection to the proposal and said that the matter should be examined in detail. He has also written to principal chief conservator of forests.

In the letter, he stated that all records with the department and government show that the land belongs to the forest department and there was no conversion. According to Forest Conservation Act, 1980, no reserve forest land
can be used for non-forest purposes.

He has also quoted May 12, 2016, letter of the revenue department to the forest department asking them to hand over the land.

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