Development of elephant corridor: Survey to transfer 1000 acres to Forest department begins

Development of elephant corridor: Survey to transfer 1000 acres to Forest department begins
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Development of elephant corridor: Survey to transfer 1000 acres to Forest department begins

Highlights

The Bengaluru Urban DC, J Manjunath has asked the Tehsildar, Dinesh to transfer 1000 acre of government land to the forest department for the...

The Bengaluru Urban DC, J Manjunath has asked the Tehsildar, Dinesh to transfer 1000 acre of government land to the forest department for the development of elephant corridor at Anekal Taluk, Jigani Hobli, Shivanahalli village (Survey number 69).

"With regard to the above subject, forest conservator(research) and deputy conservator of forest's reference letter, the Lok Adalat's judgement in 2011 ordered transfer of 1000 acre government land falling under survey number 69 of Shivanahalli village, Jigani Hobli, Anekal taluk to the forest department for the development of elephant corridor. But the land transfer has not been done yet.

So it is requested to hand over the above said land as it is to the forest department," the letter to the Tehsildar read. Manjunath has asked the Tehsildar to coordinate with the forest department and submit an action taken report to the DC office.

Dinesh had visited the spot on May 20 as the survey of the land will start. Dinesh told The Hans India that the survey has been taken on priority.

"I have instructed ADLR to conduct a survey. It's a huge land with an extent of more than 1000 acre. We have taken a survey on priority and the report will be submitted accordingly," he said.

Project Vruksha founder Vijay Nishanth commented that it is a great step that 1000 acres will be dedicated for the development of the elephant corridor. " We have been a witness to the human-elephant conflict and this step is a giant leap towards protecting the wildlife. I welcome it."

In 2011 and 2012, the then Deputy commissioner M.K. Aiyappa transferred over 1000 acres of lands 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 deemed forest land and as per the instruction of the DC issued in 2016 should be in possession of the forest land. Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) has been vulnerable to encroachments and despite several complaints with the police there has seldom been any effect.

The members of the NGO, Bannerghatta Nature Conservation Trust (BNCT) were threatened by locals named Anjane Gowda and Deveraj who claim to own the land (survey number 69) where the trust has planted saplings.

Last year, stone pillars were erected by the encroachers in survey number 69. This area falls under the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the National Park.

This newspaper raised the issue then and learnt from the highly placed sources in the forest department that the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) has asked not to take action against the encroachers as the area is not part of the forest. However, the senior officials had said that the land was within 200 meters from the boundary of the BNP.

While a joint inspection by the Deputy Commissioner office, forest department and revenue department was yet to start the encroachers had erected stone pillars surreptitiously to demarcate the portion of the land they claim is theirs.

The then forest minister Anand Singh took cognisance of the matter and held a meeting with the forest department.

On November 19, 2020 the staffers from the forest department had an altercation with the encroachers, who claimed to own the land. However, the encroachers had to leave after the officials said unless a joint survey is conducted by the DC, forest and revenue departments they cannot claim ownership.

Bannerghatta Nature Conservation Trust, an NGO has written a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, police and forest minister apprising them about the issue. "Anjanappa who is not a resident of this panchayat and nor has he or his family cultivated the land or grown crops in the region as it is a forested area. The said person along with his friends is trying to fence this land. He is not a permanent resident of this region.

He and his family have never grown crops in this area. Recently, the Karnataka State Reserve Police Force (KSRPF) planted saplings in this land and the same person along with his friends uprooted all saplings overnight," the letter to the DC said.

"The problem arises because the Survey No. 69 was never demarcated by the concerned department and is Government owned common land (Kharab, Gomala etc), but being within 200 yards of the BNP boundary, decisions on allotment of this land cannot be taken unilaterally," the letter read.

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 Karnataka Forest Department and various institutions like Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have studied the habitat and have declared this as an elephant corridor.

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