Reserve forest tag eludes Kappattagudda hill in Gadag

The move to declare the Kappattagudda hill in Gadag district as a reserve forest is stuck in a bottleneck for nearly two years now. The hill is home to precious flora and fauna and mineral wealth. 

Mahesh Shirur, the Conservator of Forests of the Dharwad Circle, had in December 2010 submitted a report to then Forest Minister C H Vijayashankar, identifying 5,938 hectares in the Kadakola-Jalligeri forest range of Shirahatti taluk of Gadag district and 12,000 hectares in Mundaragi and Gadag taluks for the reserve forest project.

The government had assigned the task of preparing a report for the reserve forest to Shirur, following protests by environmentalists and religious leaders demanding that the area in and around Kappattagudda be declared a reserve forest.

They feared that the forests would be denuded with Bellary’s mining barons setting their eyes on the hill. Earlier, in 2001-02, the State government had declared an area of 100 areas in Kappattagudda as a medicinal park.

Following the submission of the report, the government asked the State Wildlife Board to implement the reserve forest project. On January 24, 2011, Board vice-chairman Anil Kumble visited Gadag city and Doni village at the foothills of Kappattagudda. However, the inspection could not take place with January 24 being declared a holiday, following the death of noted singer Bheemsen Joshi.

Meanwhile, fears have been expressed that Kappattagudda may not be declared reserve forest as the government recently assigned the task of conducting a survey to a private company, for gold mining in the hill. Mundaragi taluk development agitation committee president Y N Gouder fears the reserve forest plan may be shelved in the light of these developments.

Shivakumar Swami of the Kappattagudda Nandiveri Mutt alleged that the mining mafia had always worked against declaring the area a reserve forest. The seer said he wrote to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar soon after he took charge, demanding that the process to declare Kappattagudda a reserve forest be initiated. But Shettar was yet to reply, said the seer. He hopes Kappattagudda will soon get the status of a reserve forest.

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