Officials of the Department of Forest on Friday went to Mallasavara, a village in Belur taluk, to get the forest area, allegedly encroached by a private coffee estate in which retired IAS officer I.M. Vittalmurthy is a partner, cleared, only to return empty handed.
As soon as around 100 members of the forest staff reached the spot, they were shown an order of the Karnataka High Court, staying the eviction process.
Aniketana Estate, owned by Mr. Vittalmurthy and others, had allegedly encroached 19 acres and 20 guntas of forest land at Mallasavara. The Forest Department had issued the eviction notice in 2014. Mr. Vittalamurthy had challenged the notice and filed an appeal before the Chief Conservator of Forests.
Recently, his appeal was rejected and the eviction notice upheld. The forest officials, led by Assistant Conservator of Forests Ravindra Kumar, reached the estate. However, the caretaker of the estate showed them the stay order.
“We had to return empty handed as the eviction process has been stayed by a court order," said Mr. Kumar.
Sources in the Forest Department said that the officials had planned the eviction process much earlier. However, it was stalled owing to the intervention of some senior officials. The staff had then decided to go ahead with eviction process on December 11. However, they were again asked to postpone, allegedly to help the estate owners get the much needed time to secure the stay order.
Subsequently, the estate owners have secured a stay order.