The former chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force, Anant Hegde Ashisara, sought the intervention of the Central government in protesting deemed forests in Karnataka.
“Karnataka had nearly 10 lakh hectares of deemed forest in 2002, which was reduced to five lakh hectares in 2014-15. The state government plans to further reduce the deemed forest for allowing non-forestry activities. Therefore, we urge you to take up the matter with the state government to ensure no more reduction in the deemed forest area in future,” he said in a memorandum submitted to Union Minister for Forests, Environment and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan. “Since revenue lands with features of forests and having 50 trees per hectare are identified as deemed forests, there is an urgent need to preserve them for the livelihood security of millions of people.”
The state government had allocated 1,000 acres of deemed forest to the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Shivamogga. This land should be retrieved from the university and reserved as forest land, he added.
Ashisara, who is the president of Vriksha Laksha Andolana, also urged the Centre to halt the state’s decision to allocate 1,000 hectares of deemed forest area for granite mining in Shivapura village near Navilugudda in Tarikere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district. Since this land is close to the Bhadra Tiger Reserve, allowing any mining activity in Navilugudda would damage wildlife in the protected area.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ashisara said he, along with Narayan Hegde Gadikai, coordinator, Uttara Kannada District Parisara Samranksana Samiti, also met officials in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and explained the urgent need for protecting the deemed forest. He also demanded that the Centre advise the state not to permit mini-hydel projects in the Western Ghats, saying these projects would hit the ecologically sensitive areas.