Shivamogga: Probe on 'illegal' allotment of forest land

Shivamogga: Probe on 'illegal' allotment of forest land

File photo for representation.

Following alleged irregularities in allotment of around 2,000 acres of forest land in Shivamogga district to illegal beneficiaries, the state government has sought the Upa Lokayukta to initiate an enquiry against five forest officials.

The irregularities were detected in allotment of land in Sagar and Hosanagar taluks in Shivamogga district under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The matter came to light following a complaint to the Lokayukta by retired forest official A G Yogendra last year. He had alleged that during 2015 and 2016, around 2,000 acres of forest land has been illegally allotted to ineligible persons.

He had alleged that Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Mohan N Gangolli had illegally allotted land by receiving a bribe of Rs 3,000 per gunta. He had also alleged that four other officials were involved in the case had also accepted bribes. The case was transferred to Upa Lokayukta for investigation.

Gangolli in his defence, had maintained that the land was allotted as per rules. He had said that before issuing title deeds, the department had to identify forest dwellers residing in the region for the past 75 years. In the absence of adequate documents, beneficiaries were selected based on their age, and the list was finalised.

After the initial probe, the Lokayukta registrar had noted that land was illegally allotted to ineligible persons. He had written to the state government seeking probe against the five officials. Following the Lokayukta letter, the Forest department ordered a probe against Gangolli on October 17, and four other officials on October 26. It has also asked the Upa Lokayukta to complete the probe in six months.

The other officials under the scanner are Venkatesh, retiredd ACF, Sagar; G R Venkatesh Murthy, retired forester, Hosanagar division; H M Jagadish Kumar, retired Shikaripura ACF and R D Naik, formerly ACF Sorab.