Karnataka: CM Bommai to discuss Shivamogga forest land issue … – The Indian Express

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said on Tuesday that he, along with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, would discuss with the Union government the issue related to the cancellation of allotment of 9,934.02 acres of de-notified forest land in Shivamogga district to the villagers displaced after the construction of Linganamakki dam.
The statement came on a day when locals in Shivamogga district staged a protest against the Karnataka government’s decision to cancel the allotment.
“I will go to Delhi along with the CM to discuss the issue with the Union government,” Jnanendra said after chairing a meeting in Bengaluru along with Sagar district legislator Harthalu Halappa.
The government had cancelled the allotment after social activist Gireesh Achar had approached the court stating that the forest land was allotted without the permission of the Union government. He has also filed a complaint before the southern zone of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) against former IAS officers Madan Gopal and T M Vijaya Bhaskar for de-notifying 9,934.02 acres of forest land in Shivamogga district between 2015-2017.
In his complaint filed on September 29, Achar said that though the Forest Conservation Act makes it mandatory for the state government to seek the Union government’s approval before de-notifying or converting forest areas, the same did not happen in this case. “The land allotment was illegal. The government must follow due process of law,” he said.
Achar’s complaint (a copy of it has been shared with indianexpress.com) points out that 56 de-notification orders were issued on November 17, December 14 and December 19 in 2015; on July 19, September 28 and November 23 in 2016; and on February 23 in 2017 to de-notify the reserved forest/forest area measuring 9934.02 acres.
Gopal and Bhaskar issued the said 56 de-notifications under Section 28 of Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, said Veerendra Patil, an advocate representing Achar. “They contended that no permission was required from the Union government for issuing de-notifications. However, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Section 2 clearly talks about the ‘restriction on the de-reservation of forest or use of forest land for non-forest purposes’. No state government or other authority shall make any change except with the prior approval of the central government,” Patil added.
Patil explained that the central government on May 5, 1996, approved the diversion of 14,848.83 hectares of forest land in the Sagar forest division in Shivamogga district to rehabilitate farmers who lost their land to the construction of Linganamakki dam.
“The encroachments made before 1978 were regularised by the Union government. The Forest Conservation Act was enacted in the year 1980 and then it was made mandatory that any diversion of forest land would require the prior permission of the central government. So the de-notifications made by the former IAS officers in the period between 2015-2017 are illegal and violate the Forest Conservation Act,” Patil added.
On October 14, during a hearing before the Karnataka High Court, Jawed Akhtar, additional chief secretary (forest, ecology and environment) said that on September 29 this year, the 56 de-notifications orders which were given by the state government without the approval of the Union government were withdrawn.
“The government has already initiated action to find out as to whether any non-forestry activities are allowed by the officers concerned and the government has already issued communication dated 19.09.2022 to the principal chief conservator of forests (head of forest force) to enquire into the matter,” Akhtar told the co
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