The land was transferred to BBMP in early 2000s for constructing landfills for garbage but was stalled after activists approached K'taka HC over violation of forest buffer land.

Bluru activists up in arms as govt gives forest buffer land to Defence in swap deal
news Land Deal Monday, August 06, 2018 - 07:51

The Karnataka government’s decision to give away land in the buffer zone of Bannerghatta National Park to the Ministry of Defence, has not gone down well with environmentalists and wildlife activists. 

This is part of the quid-pro-quo agreement with the Defence ministry, where Rs 322 crore worth of land will be given by the state in exchange for 210 acres of land acquired for various infrastructure projects including the upcoming metro project. The agreement was signed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy and Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj on Saturday. 

Activists were taken aback when the Additional Chief Secretary Ravi Kumar went to inspect land in Thammanaikanahalli, where previously there was rampant illegal quarrying with the tacit support of politicians across all parties. 

210 acres of defence land swapped for infra projects in Bengaluru

The land was transferred to BBMP in early 2000s for the purpose of constructing landfills for garbage but was stalled after activists approached the Karnataka High Court over violation of forest buffer land.

Currently, all mining activity in the state has been temporarily stalled due  to the insistence of the Karnataka High Court. While the dumping of garbage was stopped, quarrying started instead, which not only disturbed the animal habitat and behaviour but also led to multiple man-animal conflicts. 

Informed sources in the Revenue Department told TNM that Survey No 23, 176 and 177 of Thammanayakanahalli in Anekal taluk is part of the land exchange deal. 

A revenue officer confirmed part of Survey no 23 is in the buffer zone while Survey no 176 and 177 are yet to be reviewed by the Forest Department.  

Activists opposed to this are worried that when illegal quarrying activity was going on, at least there was scrutiny, but now with the Defence taking over the land, there won’t be any scope for keeping a check.

“Until now, the safe zones as asked by the Supreme Court have not been notified. While all surrounding forest areas, safe zones have been notified, there has been no similar action here due to vested interests. They are looting the whole area. This is development at the cost of nature. This is an important lung space of Bengaluru and for the last 20 years it is being encroached,” said Vishnu, a Bannerghatta-based activist.