This was decided four decades ago when Harangi reservoir was built
The High Court of Karnataka has directed the State government to transfer within one month the entries in respect of 11,722.29 hectares of identified lands of C and D categories in Kodagu district to the Forest Department as was decided four decades ago to compensate forest area utilised for Harangi reservoir project.
A Division Bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice J.M. Khazi issued the direction while allowing a PIL petition filed by K.A. Ravi Chengappa, President of Cauvery Sene, Madikeri, and C.C. Devaiah of Virajpet of Kodagu district.
The petitioners had pointed out that the reservoir was built during 1970s near Hudgur village in Somwarpet taluk and the government had on May 12, 1972, ordered release of 900 acres of land from the Yadavanadu forest area and 3,000 acres from the Atturu forest area to rehabilitate the persons who had lost their lands on account of the reservoir project.
Also, the government in 1972 and 1994 had directed that 18,000 acres of land from the Revenue Department should be handed over to the Forest Department to re-compensate the forest land utilised for the reservoir project, the petitioners said.
Though orders were passed in 1972 and 1994 for transferring 11,722.29 hectares of land to the Forest Department, the revenue authorities, including the Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu, till today had not transferred the records of these lands in favour of the Forest Department, the petitioners contended.
During the hearing of the petition, the government counsel told the Court that only formal handing over of lands to Forest Department was not done while clarifying that the Forest Department is at liberty to take charge of the 11,722.29 hectares of lands and the court issue such a direction.
The Bench, while referring to apex court’s judgements in T.N. Godavarman Thirupulkpad case on protection of environment and forest lands, said that the Government was required to transfer these lands to Forest Department as the 11,722.29 hectares of lands were mean to re-compensate the forest area used for the reservoir project.
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