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Official ignores advice against denotifying forest land

M. Ahiraj



Who cares:The Assistant Commissioner and Forest Settlement Officer has excluded 265 acres in Ramgadh village of Sandur taluk from being classified as forest land. If the decision comes into effect, private individuals can claim ownership of the land and undertake mining.

BELLARY: The Assistant Commissioner and Forest Settlement Officer (FSO), Bellary Sub-Division, Bellary, has ignored the advise given by U.V. Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Karnataka Lokayukta. He has reportedly gone ahead and excluded 265 acres of forest land in Ramgadh village of Sandur taluk, Bellary district.

In an order passed on May 25, 2010, the FSO had excluded 265 acres of the total 2,395 acres of land, which had been notified as forest under Section 4 of the Karnataka Forest Act 1963, and declared the area was not forest land.

Five days prior to the passing of the order, Mr. Singh had written a detailed letter, which is available with The Hindu, to the FSO mentioning that the 265 acres of land, proposed to be excluded, should not be denotified as it was already declared as forest land.

The FSO's decision was opposed by the Department of Forests and activists.

If the decision comes into effect, private individuals can claim ownership of the land and undertake mining activities. Already, there are 14 claimants to the land, including Anil Lad, MP, his sister-in-law Rajani S. Lad, Adarsh Enterprises, belonging to the group of B.S. Anand Singh, Vijayanagar MLA, K.S.L. Swamy, former MLC among others.

The Supreme Court had appointed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to visit forest areas in Ramgadh to make an on-the-spot study of illegal mining. During its visit, the CEC asked the Revenue authorities to show the records pertaining to the survey numbers in original.

Mr. Singh, in his letter, had said the land was part of 2,395.4 acres handed over by the then ruler of Sandur to the State Government. Subsequent to completion of handing over and taking over process, a notification had been issued under Section 4 of the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, including the entire area as forest. He had said the land had large deposits of iron ore and being a State property, no rights shall be confirmed to private individuals.

“It has been reiterated that there was no survey number whatsoever at the time of handing over the areas as forest by the ex-ruler of Sandur,” Mr. Singh had reiterated besides urging the FSO not to delete any area out of the 2,395.40 acres and notify the entire area of Ramgadh (except survey number 1 to 4) as reserve forest under Section 17 of the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963.

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