600 persons, institutions named; land worth Rs. 7,000 crore
In a startling disclosure, Forest Minister C.P. Yogeshwar on Wednesday told the Legislative Council that 2,482.20 acres of forest land around Bangalore had been encroached upon by 600 individuals and institutions.
Replying to Basavaraj Horatti (Janata Dal-S) and K.C. Kondaiah (Congress) during question hour, the Minister said the total value of the encroached land was estimated to be around Rs. 7,000 crore.
The encroachment in Bangalore Urban district was 1,338.20 acres while 1,144 acres had been encroached upon in Bangalore Rural district. Giving a break-up of encroachments, the Minister said 569.28 acres of forest land coming under K.R. Puram Forest Zone had been encroached upon, while it was 401.10 acres in Bangalore South Zone.
The encroachments in other zones are: Anekal 322.18 acres, Bangalore North 37.33 acres, Yelahanka 6.24 acres, Doddaballapur 373.17 acres, Devanahalli 146.05 acres, Nelamangala 431.17 acres and Hoskote 193.16 acres.
He said the Forest Department had initiated a legal process to recover the land.
Replying to an issue raised in zero hour by Veeranna Matikatti (Congress), the Minister said 4,000 hectares of forest cover had been destroyed in recent fires. This included 1,960 hectares in Nagarahole, 972 hectares in Bandipura, 240 hectares in Biligiri Rangana Hills and 200 hectares in Shettyhalli zone.
Blaming vested interests for the forest fires, the Minister said forest offence cases had been filed against them. Recently, a four-member group had been arrested while allegedly trying to set fire in HD Kote forest division and cases had been filed against them.
Mr. Yogeshwar reiterated that the department had installed Active Forest Fire Mapper software that would send immediate alerts to ground-level forest officials on fire incidents through satellite-linked information system.