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Land sharks exploit ambiguity to encroach on elephant corridor

Land sharks exploit ambiguity to encroach on elephant corridor
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Land sharks exploit ambiguity to encroach on elephant corridor

Highlights

In a letter to the additional chief secretary, forest, environment and ecology department, Siddharth Goenka, member of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board has apprised about the repeated episodes of attempted encroachments in survey number 69, Shivanahalli.

In a letter to the additional chief secretary, forest, environment and ecology department, Siddharth Goenka, member of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board has apprised about the repeated episodes of attempted encroachments in survey number 69, Shivanahalli.

The letter reads, "I have discussed this matter with several people who are permanent residents of the area and it appears to me that the land in question is repeatedly subject to encroachments due to ambiguity as to who should be in the rightful possession of the land and this ambiguity is being exploited by these miscreants. The revenue department may have granted land to some people without appropriate examination of the records or the application. As fellow custodians of this deemed forest we should take the initiative and sort out the matter so that the national park and the surrounding ESZ are not further jeopardised."

The government Survey No 69 of Shivanahalli, Ragi Halli panchayat of Anekal taluk, Jigani Hobli Bangalore South has been recorded as an elephant corridor by the Union Ministry of Environment. The survey number falls under the eco sensitive zone of the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP). The Karnataka Forest Department and various institutions like Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have studied the habitat and have confirmed this as an elephant corridor.

In 2011 and 2012, the then deputy commissioner M.K. Aiyappa transferred over 1,000 acres of land under the revenue department to the Karnataka Forest Department citing the importance of protection of this habitat for wildlife movement. Despite this correspondence no action was taken by the forest department to protect the land transferred by the revenue department. The ramification on the wildlife corridor was such that those with vested interests, in connivance with the forest officials have taken advantage of the ambiguity over the possession of the land by getting fake documents to prove their ownership over the land.

The land in this area is a deemed forest land and as per the instruction of the DC issued in 2016 should be in possession of the forest department.

Goenka in the letter has requested the additional chief secretary to uphold the orders of Aiyappa and hand over 1,000 acres to the forest department.

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