Minister for Forests B. Ramanath Rai told the Legislative Assembly on Monday that an expert committee will be set up to study the extent of deemed forests in the State. The government will then file an affidavit in the Supreme Court based on the committee’s recommendations.

In reply to C.T. Ravi of the Bharatiya Janata Party during Question Hour, Mr. Rai said the government would protect the interests of the poor and the farmers while determining the extent of deemed forests. Earlier, BJP and JD(S) members demanded withdrawal of a list declaring 10.11 lakh hectares deemed forests across the State.

The Department of Forests has declared Kans, Kumki, Bane and Kharab lands as deemed forest and thousands of famers would lose their lands if the list is implemented, said Jagadish Shettar (BJP), K.G. Bopaiah (BJP) and B.S. Yeddyurappa (Karnataka Janata Paksha).

In the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Rai said a revised affidavit would be submitted to the Supreme Court. Wherever required, lands which do not come under natural forest category would be left out and if necessary alternative land would be given to the Forest Department.

Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa, who hails from forest-rich Shimoga district lent support to the debate. He said “kaanu” land, which is used either for agriculture or buildings would have to be declared as deemed forest, if one goes by the affidavit. The members alleged that the Forest Department had prepared the list of land to be included in the deemed forest in their chambers, violating the procedure.

Mr. Rai said Forest Settlement Officers would be appointed in each district to settle all such issues.