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Bengaluru: Forest officers reclaim 10 acres of encroached land after two-decade battle

Officials reported that the forest has become increasingly vulnerable to encroachments since land prices in the area began rising following the construction of NICE Road.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 22:57 IST

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Bengaluru: In a case that highlights the challenges of recovering forest land from encroachment, forest officials in Bengaluru have waged a nearly 20-year-long battle to reclaim over 10 acres near Kengeri.

The land in BM Kaval, Kengeri hobli, is part of the 1,382 acres and 18 guntas of land notified as state (reserved) forest in 1935. Officials reported that the forest has become increasingly vulnerable to encroachments since land prices in the area began rising following the construction of NICE Road. By 2005, officials discovered that several people had encroached on 10 acres and 15 guntas in the BM Kaval forest.

In 2006, the Range Forest Officer in Kaggalipura filed a case against Muniraju, one of the encroachers, for illegally occupying 1 acre and 32 guntas of forest land in survey number 24.

An ensuing investigation confirmed the encroachment, prompting the Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) to issue a notice, demanding that Muniraju vacate the land or present documentation to prove his ownership.

In 2009, the ACF issued an order stating that no forest land could be granted unless such a proposal was approved by the Union government under the Forest (Conservation) Act. This order followed Muniraju's failure to present evidence of ownership. The ACF noted that the land had not been denotified as forest, making any grants illegal.

Similar proceedings were initiated against other encroachers, including those occupying forest land in survey number 40 of BM Kaval.

In 2013, one encroacher approached the High Court of Karnataka. In the case of Jayamma, the court held the final hearing in December 2022 and dismissed her petition for non-prosecution due to her repeated failure to appear.

Over the past week, forest officers in the Kaggalipura Range took possession of the land. "A house built illegally on the land was demolished, and saplings have been planted to restore the forest," said Deputy Conservator of Forests Ravindra Kumar N.

Department sources indicated that several encroachment cases are pending before various courts.

"In some cases, even after authorities or the court have dismissed the petition, the land is yet to be recovered. A thorough review of the cases needs to be conducted to expedite the recovery process," the source said.

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Published 05 July 2024, 22:57 IST

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