450 acres forest land reclaimed in C'magaluru: Govt

450 acres forest land reclaimed in C'magaluru: Govt

A Supreme Court bench ordered the Karnataka government to look into the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. (pic for representation only)

The Karnataka government has told the Supreme Court that it has taken back over 450 acres of land in Chikkamagaluru’s Maskali reserve forest area, which was encroached upon by 276 families. It also claimed to have removed 115 encroachment from Sargodu Reserve Forest.

The court, however, directed the state to take remedial steps on eviction of encroachers from the ST community from Sargodu reserve forest as they rejected the offer of rehablitation package and claimed rights over the land.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered the state to look into the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and take consequent actions at the earliest and in any case within a period of two months.

The order came as the state informed it that out of seven ST families, six have not accepted the rehabilitation package, while one has died without leaving behind any legal heir.

The court was examining the issue of encroachment in Thatkola, Sargodu and Maskali reserve forests in Chikkamagaluru in connection with a 1995 writ petition filed by
T N Godavarman Thirumulpad, a member of the princely Nilambur Kovilakam family in the Malabar region of Kerala. The petitioner passed away on June 1, 2016 at the age of 86.

In a related development, the Karnataka government told the court that the forest department has freed up 452 acres and 8 guntas of land in Maskali reserve forest by removing 276 families. It has offered rehabilitation package to these families which was in the process of implementation.

The court took into record the submission by the state’s counsel that the rehabilitation process was on, as some construction works for residential purposes were to be undertaken for the evicted families.

The government also told the court that it has removed 115 encroachments in Sargodu reserve forest. It said there were 33 pre-1978 encroachers. Out of them, since the land occupied by 15 encroachers was on the fringe of forests, their the land has been denotified.

As many as 13 encroachers were offered a rehabilitation package on the lines of the package given to the families in Maskali Reserve forest and they have accepted it. With regard to five encroachers, as the government said discussions were on, the bench said, “We give one last opportunity to the state to conclude the discussions one way or the other.”

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