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40,000 hectares of forest land recovered

T.S. Ranganna

Most of these fall under category C and D and cannot be regularised

BANGALORE: The Forest Department has retrieved 40,000 hectares of the total 1,10,000 hectares of its land encroached upon by influential sections of society, including politicians belonging to different parties. The department is trying to raise plantations on the recovered land with the financial assistance from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Minister for Forests and Environment C. Chennigappa told The Hindu that the maximum encroachment had taken place in Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, Hassan, Chikmagalur, Chamarajanagar and Udupi districts.

Tracing the history of the encroachments, the Minister said although it had been going on for a long time, he detected it when he stopped illegal mining on large tracts of forest land in Bellary district after he took charge of the department.

Mr. Chennigappa said he had ordered a survey of encroachments in the State, including Bellary district. According to tentative figures, the department had detected encroachment of 2,000 acres by illegal mines in the district.

The Minister said that once the survey was over, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests U.V. Singh would retrieve the land before July. Already, 300 acres of land in Kanakapura taluk had been retrieved by stopping illegal mining.

Apart from this, the Minister said the department had taken measures to take over 15,000 acres of C and D land — abutting forests or in their close proximity — from the Revenue Department under Section 17 of the Karnataka Forest Act, to prevent further encroachment.

The encroachers of such land knew that the Centre and the Supreme Court would not agree to regularise cultivation on the land. All the 36 Conservators of Forests had been directed to identify and take over such land, he said.

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