Firms set to develop multiple coffee estates in plantations of Chikkamagaluru served notices

The RFO of Chikkamagaluru, in his report, said the lands were located within the buffer zone of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

January 08, 2024 09:09 pm | Updated January 09, 2024 09:55 am IST - Shivamogga

A file photo of a coffee plantation in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka.

A file photo of a coffee plantation in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: Murali Kumar K

Chikkamagaluru Deputy Commissioner Meena Nagaraj has issued notices to six people representing firms that proposed to develop coffee estates of multiple sizes in plantations close to Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Kamenahalli Reserve Forest and hill stations in Chikkamagaluru taluk.

The DC, on January 5, issued notices to six people, who had proposed to convert a total of 242 acres of land at Gonakal and Melina Huluvatthi in Jagara hobli of Chikkamagaluru taluk into multiple-sized plantations.

The DC has taken note of publicity materials distributed by the companies, besides the company websites. They have proposed to develop and manage coffee estates with all amenities. They have invited buyers to own coffee estates with clear titles. The firms are assuring the buyers an “enchanting experience in the heart of green” where they can build their family home and “experience nature in its purest form.”

Within buffer zone

The DC has taken a report from the Forest Department official before serving the notice. The RFO of Chikkamagaluru, in his report, said the lands were located within the buffer zone of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Any development activity within 10-km of the sanctuary, the buffer zone, needs approval from the Forest Department. The officer reported that the lands were within 900 to 1,300 metres of aerial distance from Kamenahalli Reserve Foest. “Kanehalli Reserve Forest has been part of Mysuru Reserve Extension, where wild elephants roam. And the sites chosen for development are within five to six kilometres of Bhadra Reserve Forest,” the notice said.

Further, the DC stated that the lands chosen for development were plantation lands. The Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, keeps such lands out of the definition of agriculture. And the plantations have been kept out of the ambit of the ceiling on land ownership. Besides that, coffee plantations have been considered an industry.

Diversion of land

Citing these laws, the DC said that the owners were exploiting these provisions. As per the act, the owners had to obtain prior permission from the DC before diverting the same for other purposes. A majority of Chikkamagaluru taluk was a hill station that included Mullayyanagiri, Bababudangiri, among others. The lands identified for development were also on the foothills of the Western Ghats. “Any move to convert them into piece lands might harm nature and affect the waterbodies in the area,” she said.

Minister for Energy K.J. George, who is also Minister in-charge of Chikkamagaluru district, told journalists at Tarikere on Monday, that he instructed the DC to issue notices to the firms concerned after he learnt about the issue. “I have brought it to the notice of Revenue Minister as well. We will take action as per law,” he said.

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