A report released by Karnataka state forest department says 18 government organizations, which includes ISRO, DRDO, the I-T department and scheduled banks, apart from 18 private developers and industrialists, are in illegal possession of land in Peenya-Jalahalli reserve forest. Government organisations have rejected forest department's report.
According to an internal report, the 36 parties illegally possess 165 acres and 13 guntas of reserve forest land in the Peenya Plantations. The forest department has apparently issued notices to most of them asking for explanations.
However, the organisations have denied receiving any such notice or intimation.
The forest department has also issued eviction notices to a private builder. The matter is pending appeal with the state government, as the builder has challenged the report's findings.
The land was initially allotted to Hindustan Machine Tools for a specific purpose of setting up its factory and it was not to be used for any other purpose. But HMT later sold it to these 36 parties, who are said to be in illegal possession of the land.
The report that DRDO is in illegal possession of 4 acres of reserve forest land came as a surprise to its officials.
Speaking to TOI, former estates manager for DRDO, Thimaiah, said the land was purchased during his tenure and that they are building a township. â€śBut we were never aware of the land being reserved forest. We only purchased the property from HMT,â€ť he said.
ISRO's director for public relations was reportedly unavailable for comments on the 24 acres of reserved forest land it owns.
Canara Bank assistant general manager (general administration wing), K N Ramamoorthy told that the bank was in possession of 19 acres but denied that it was reserved forest land.
Times of India quoted Ramamoorthy saying, â€śThere is no question of the land being part of reserved forest. The entire land, which has been purchased by us, abuts the HMT factory compound on one side, a village on another and a naval housing board on the third side. There's a road in front of the property. Where does the question of it being forest land come? It is all developed property and is outside the reserved forest purview.â€ť
Former assistant principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF) Venkatasubbaiah, the author of the report, noted: â€śThe reserved forest is not de-reserved, granted to a government organisation by issuing a government order and the land is sold to other government organisations and the land is not used for the purpose for which it was granted.â€ś