Agricultural encroachment a major threat to K’taka forests

Environment State

A CAG report shows a net increase of 29 per cent in the encroached forest land.

Karnataka is a land of contrasts. And a Comptroller and Auditor General report proves it. Despite boasting of the second highest growth in forest cover in all states of the country in the latest India State of Forest Report, the state forests are also facing increased encroachment activities.

A CAG report showed that forest encroachment jumped from 2,04,442 acres in 2014 to 2,64,000 in 2017-2018.

Sridhar, Head of Forest Force said, “The larger encroachments which is primarily used for agricultural use must be tackled are increasing. The regularisation of the encroachments, which means that the settlers will be recognized as legal under the Forest Rights Act has been rejected by the High court multiple times.”

The Karnataka Forest Department has filed affidavits to the High Court in order to remove any form of encroachment as identified under the Forests Rights Act.

Dipika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forest- Bangalore Urban, said that Reserved and Protected forests in Karnataka have been encroached since they have not been de-notified by the state government, also the department has faced problems with the documents regarding the details of encroachments of forest land, and it is being rectified now.

Stalin Dayanand, environmental activists said the Forest Rights Act has been misused to clear more forests. Forest encroachment cannot be reduced and it will gradually keep increasing, and this is mainly due to the lack of political will.

He further added that agriculture is the main reason behind these encroachments, and the government needs to relocate these dwellers. The areas around the forests are also being affected since these farmers use the water from the rivers, hence contaminating it with fertilizers.

The State with the highest rate of encroachment is Madhya Pradesh with  5,34,000 hectares encroached, while the state lowest rate of encroachment is Bihar with 1,32,000 hectares encroached.

Karnataka, like many Indian states, has initiated Anti-Encroachment drives in 2015 targeted at Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG).

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