: Activists, including a member of the State Wildlife Board, have alleged the involvement of a forest officer in the alleged encroachment on the elephant corridor.

Bengalurus Bannerghatta National Park buffer land allegedly encroachedRepresentational image/ATREE
news Environment Monday, November 23, 2020 - 18:42

Karnataka Forest Minister Anand Singh has assured corrective action in the alleged land grab of hundreds of acres of forest land on the periphery of the Bannerghatta National Park by a forest officer. Activists, including a member of the State Wildlife Board, alleged the involvement for a forest official in the alleged encroachment. Importantly, the said land, which is just 200 metres away from the national park boundary, is also an elephant corridor. “We are following this matter after we received this complaint,” Minister Anand Singh told TNM. 

Conservationists had approached Anand Singh and other senior officials last weekend over the inaction of the department regarding encroachment of hundreds of acres of eco-sensitive forest buffer land of the Bannerghatta National Park near Bengaluru city. They also shot a letter to the officials. In a letter to the minister on Monday, Vishnu Narain, Managing Trustee of Bannerghatta Nature Conservation Trust, alleged that one Anjanapppa in Survey 69 of Shivanahalli village in Jigani Hobli (Anekal taluk, Bangalore Urban district) is attempting to illegally grab the said land. 

In his letter, Vishnu has also alleged the involvement of Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Bangalore South Venkatesh in this land grab. The letter said while the disputed land is subject to a joint inspection by the Deputy Commissioner’s office, Forest Department and Revenue department, Anjanappa has set up some temporary structures on the land. 

“Despite this instruction (of joint inspection), on the night of November 22, 2020, the culprits planted stone pillars to demarcate what they claim is their land. We have been informed by reliable sources that the ACF of Bangalore South, Venkatesh, has instigated the culprits to do this and has even given them a sketch of the land, an act that is against all conservation initiatives and more so, as this land is right in the middle of the elephant corridor and less than 200 meters from the Bannerghatta National Park. We request you to immediately deploy your task force to stop this illegal act immediately,” the letter said.

Dr Nagendran, another member of the Bannerghatta Nature Conservation Trust, also said that they have evidence against ACF Venkatesh and said even his own colleagues in the forest department are in disagreement with him over this matter.

When asked about the alleged involvement of ACF Venkatesh, Minister Anand Singh said, “The investigation is underway.” 

On the same matter, Siddharth Goenka, a sitting member of the State Wildlife Board, also wrote to the Additional Chief Secretary, Forest, Environment and Ecology, on the matter urging urgent intervention from the Forest Department hierarchy.

A part of his letter, dated November 20, reads, “I am sure you now appreciate the gravity of the situation and the Importance of the task at hand. I Implore you to ensure that this healthy wildlife habitat In Survey No 69 Shivanahalli Village, Jlganl Hobli Is protected as such at any cost, especially so as It lies within 200 meters of the Bannerghatta National Park boundary and Is a crucial element of the ESZ (eco-sensitive zone) and Elephant Corridor. “

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