‘Create academic infrastructure, but retain green cover’

In the wake of the State government sanctioning 777 acres of land classified as kaanu forest near Iruvakki village in Sagar taluk to University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga, for its new campus, environmentalists have pressed for retaining the green cover here while creating the necessary academic infrastructure on the allotted land.

Kaanu is a unique type of forest spread across land belonging to Forest and Revenue Departments. The State government had sanctioned the land to UAHS, Shivamogga, in March 2015. The university had paid ₹2.38 crore to the State government for the land. The Department of Revenue has completed the work of surveying the land and fixing boundaries.

Thick forest area

The allotted land has thick, natural forest and grazing ground for cattle, locally identified as ‘hullubani’. According to a survey undertaken by Vrukshalaksha Andolana – an organisation involved in the conservation of the environment – the forest on the allotted land has more than 40,000 trees. The State government has sanctioned the land to the university on the condition of conserving the trees here.

Ananth Hegde Ashisara, president, Vrukshalaksha Andolana, and ex-chairman, of Western Ghats Taskforce, State government, told The Hindu that the plan by the university to construct administrative and teaching blocks, laboratories, residential quarters for the staff, hostels and to develop demonstration plots for crops on the allotted land has triggered apprehension among environmentalists that the natural green cover here will be destroyed.

Minimum damage

He urged the university authorities to hold consultations with environmentalists, agriculturists and officials of the Forest Department on the measures to be taken to retain the natural green cover here. The construction plan for the new campus should be designed in a manner that minimum damage is caused to the environment. In addition to this, to make good the loss of green cover in the form of chopping of trees for creating the infrastructure, the university should also come up with a compensatory afforestation plan, he said.

Mr. Ashisara said that since a part of the allotted land was cultivated by bagair hukum farmers, the Revenue Department and university authorities should listen to their woes. The university should also involve farmers from Iruvakki and surrounding villages in the kaanu forest conservation activities, he added.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 1:09:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/create-academic-infrastructure-but-retain-green-cover/article18511486.ece

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