ON THESPOT Officials surprised about reports on encroachment
`We are in possession of land under Survey Nos. 5, 41 and 42' `Case booked against BDA for encroaching forest land'
BANGALORE: The calm enveloping the Turahalli minor forest is in sharp contrast to the storm it has generated over its alleged encroachment.
As The Hindu team approached this 597-acre forest from the Kanakapura Road side from Banashankari 6th Stage, the road abruptly ended, indicating the beginning of the forest.
One side of the forest is occupied by eucalyptus trees while the other side is barren.
A Forest Department official alleged that a portion of the barren side had been encroached upon by the Bangalore Development Authority for the Banashankari VI stage project. The Forest Department has taken possession of the encroached part and has filed a case against the BDA.
An old man collecting firewood said: "This is a quiet place. People come here during the weekends either for trekking or to visit Lord Shaniswara's temple on top of the hillock."
The edge of the forest on the far side was signalled by the other portion of the 100-foot road. This break in the 100-foot road makes clear the Forest Department's determination to prevent encroachment, considered the only lung space for South Bangalore.
The department has not accorded permission to the BDA to build the 100-foot road across the forest. "The department has taken action to clear the forest lands of people who are cultivating the land in the forest area," said Rajesh, a resident of Ganigerapalya, who has been living near the forest for nearly a decade. Suresh, a resident of Turahalli, who runs a tea stall on this road, is happy about the increased construction activity in and around his village.
"It is since two years that there has been an increased construction activity. This has helped the villagers to get more income. We get city buses frequently," he said.
Forester Bailappa, accompanied by his staff, were engaged in routine inspection.
"I am surprised to see the reports in newspapers about encroachment of the forest land, which is not a fact. We are in possession of the 597-acre forest coming under Survey No. 5 of Uttarahalli Manavartekaval and Survey No. 41 and 42 of Turahalli. We have taken possession of 40 acres of land encroached by BDA and 30 acres of land encroached by farmers. In the past three months we have booked 16 cases," Mr. Bailappa said.