Planters meet Minister, seek permission to fell trees in coffee estates

Minister for Forests B. Ramanath Rai promised coffee planters that the rules pertaining to felling of naturally grown trees in coffee estates would be relaxed. His department would submit a proposal to the State to revise the rules for tree-felling (framed in 1986) in favour of planters.

Speaking at a meeting with elected representatives and district-level officers on Wednesday, the Minister said, “I am custodian of forests in the State. My mandate is to protect forests. At the same time, my task is to remain people-friendly in delivering my duties.”

The Minister told elected representatives in the meeting that his officers could not ignore the relevant decisions of the Supreme Court.

Many planters and elected representatives met the Minister during his visit to Hassan and Sakaleshpur.

They complained that officers had denied permission to cut trees, which made things difficult for them as they were not getting good returns from coffee.

They wanted permission to cut trees to make up the loss by selling timber.

Dipak Sarmah, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, explaining the saga of changes in rules regarding tree-felling on private lands since 1986, said that the department had dealt with the matter “seriously”.

“We resolved to send a proposal to the State government to relax the 1986 rules with respect to coffee planters,” he said.

H.D. Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo, asked officers to verify if the State could take an independent stand on the issue, irrespective of court orders on petitions related to other States. “Forest officers should take a stand in favour of farmers who have already suffered losses due to heavy rains and fall in prices,” he said.

‘Avert leopard attacks’

H.D. Revanna, MLA, appealed to the Forest Minister to avert leopard attacks in parts of Holenarasipur.

“The installation of windmills on hills has driven leopards into human settlements. Many people have lost their lives because of leopard attacks,” he said.

K.M. Shivalinge Gowda, MLA, said in parts of Arasikere many had suffered injuries due to bear attacks. “Bears are entering villages as they don’t have water in forest areas. The Forest Department should take measures to construct check dams in forest areas to ensure water for wild animals throughout the year,” the MLA said.

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