In a move with far-reaching consequences, the State Government has decided to give deemed forest land to persons who have encroached upon them on a 30-year lease with fixed rates, depending on the extent of the land.
Revenue Minister R. Ashok on Wednesday said that about 6.64 lakh hectares of the State’s 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forest land would be denotified and handed over to the Revenue Department.
The Government would use the land to find a solution to the perennial problem of ‘bagair hukum’ cultivation, which refers to unauthorised cultivation on government land, which is prevalent in Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, among other districts.
After the land is handed over by the Forest Department, the Revenue Department would identify how much land would be needed for public projects such as hospitals and colleges. About 5 lakh hectares would be given to farmers, Mr. Ashok told presspersons.
In Kodagu, 12,000 acres are under encroachment, 30,000 acres in Hassan, and 45,000 acres in Chikkamagaluru. Commercial crops such as coffee and cardamom are being cultivated on the encroached land. The land would be given to the encroachers on a 30-year lease.
Mr. Ashok said the yearly lease amount would be fixed based on the size of the land: ₹1,500-₹2,000 for one to two acres, ₹2,000-₹2,500 for three to five acres, and ₹2,500-₹3,000 for five acres and more. Till now, the encroachers have enjoyed possession of the land without paying anything to the Government, the Minister said.
‘Deemed forest’ is defined as “land having the characteristic of forests irrespective of the ownership”. Legislators cutting across partylines have often demanded conversion of deemed forests as revenue land.