‘Official machinery misused to get it regularised'

M.B. Prabhu, a social worker and head of the Indian Institute of Tribal Education, a non-governmental organisation, on Thursday accused a forest officer of encroaching upon 18.2 acres of land in the Devamachi Reserve Forests of Thithimathi Territorial Range of Nagarahole National Park in Virajpet Division of Kodagu.

He was addressing presspersons here. Mr. Prabhu appealed to the State government to take steps to evict the officer from the forestland. The encroached forestland by the officer, whose father and a brother, were also in the Forest Department, fell under compartment 19, survey number 76/1, in the Devamachi Reserve Forests near Maldare in Kodagu, Mr. Prabhu said. Plantations had been raised in the area and houses built, all in violation of government norms. The officer must be suspended and inquiry ordered against him, he said.

Mr. Prabhu, who had obtained information under the RTI Act, stated that he had sent copies of his complaint against the officer to P.J. Dilip Kumar, Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Principal Secretary, Department of Forests and Environment, Government of Karnataka, and also to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore.

The land should be recovered and distributed among the tribal people, Mr. Prabhu said. The officer, who had furnished false information to the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner that his annual income was Rs, 8,000 per annum, owned a house in Mysore and 25 acres of purchased coffee plantation at Hoddur village near Murnad in Madikeri taluk of Kodagu, he said.

The officer had misused official machinery to get the encroached forestland regularised. Records showed that no case was booked against the official as per the Karnataka Forest Act 64 (a). On the other, the official was responsible for booking several encroachment cases against hapless tribal people in compartments 18 and 19 of the Devamachi Reserve Forests under Chennangi section, Mr. Prabhu alleged.

A list of encroachers was sent to the Kodagu district administration for regularisation by the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Madikeri, in 2002-03, which also included the name of the officer and three other family members, he said.

It was endorsed by the Madikeri tahsildar as well. The list contained 174 names of encroachers, including the officer.

How could the Forest and Revenue departments recommend the name of the officer for regularisation?, he said.

Mr. Prabhu said the encroached land was in the buffer zone of Nagarahole National Park, an important elephant habitat as well as a man-elephant conflict zone. An inquiry would reveal whether the officer had felled trees in the encroached areas, he said.

  • Officer accused of encroaching upon 18.2 acres of land in Nagarahole National Park

  • Plantations have been raised and houses built in the area