Staff Reporter

On September 26, 2000, court asked the Government not to dispossess farmers of land

BANGALORE: The Raitara Hitarakshana Samiti of Manavarte Kaval Survey No. 5 in Uttarahalli hobli of Bangalore South Taluk on Thursday refuted the charge made by the CNN-IBN channel that some people had tried to sell 343.8 acres of forest land in survey no. 5 (Turahalli minor forest).

Samiti president V. Mohan Kumar and Annayyappa, a Dalit farmer, furnished copies of an order of the Karnataka High Court dated September 26, 2000. The order directs the Government not to dispossess the petitioners, if they were in possession of the land until their applications were disposed of by the Committee for Regularisation of Unauthorised Cultivation, Bangalore South taluk. Mr. Kumar and Mr. Annayyappa said that for the last seven decades the farmers were cultivating the land. The original cultivators and their families now number 130. They said the CNN-IBN had committed a grave offence by conducting an undercover investigation without verifying the truth from farmers. In its order, the court had barred the Government from fencing the land or carrying out any work that would change the status quo.

Mr. Kumar and Mr. Annayyappa disputed the Forest Department's claim to the land. The land belonged to the Forest Department before 1943. The Government transferred it to the Revenue Department on May 6, 1953, with the assurance that it would not evict farmers and would consider their request for regularisation. Their applications for regularisation were transferred to the committee.

On March 7, 1987, the Forest Department said it did not have any objection to the land being given to farmers, Mr. Kumar said.

He said that 42 acres of kharab land were acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority in 2003 for forming a layout in Banashankari VI stage for which it announced a compensation of Rs. 3.64 crore to be paid by the Revenue Department. This never came to them because they did not possess the land records. This proved that the Revenue Department and not the Forest Department owned the land, he said.