A forum of environmentalists in Shivamogga has intensified its protest demanding that the State government take back forest land leased to Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. at Bhadravati to grow acacia, the raw material for paper production.
Nammurige Acacia Mara Beda Horata Okkuta, the federation fighting against acacia plantations in Shivamogga, has appealed to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to not renew the lease, instead make use of the land to expand the forest cover, in tune with the biodiversity of the land.
The forum, which includes activists, journalists, advocates and writers, is of the view that acacia plantations have impacted the biodiversity here. Shashi Sampalli, a writer, journalist and one of the members, said the increase in monkey menace in the farmlands could be attributed to acacia plantations. “If the same land was utilised for trees that could have offered food for monkeys, the farming community would have been free from the menace. Besides this, if a farmer encroaches upon forest area to grow food crops, the State government arrests him. But, the same government has allowed the company to grow raw material on the forest land. How can anybody justify this,” he wondered.
The forum has its taluk units, which also recently staged protests pressurizing the government to withdraw the forest land from the MPM. A delegation of the federation, led by K.P. Sripal, an advocate, met former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during his visit to Shivamogga on Sunday and urged him to raise the issue in the next Assembly session and support the fight to save forests. It is also taking a delegation to Bengaluru on November 12 to meet senior officers of the Forest Department on this issue.
The State government had leased out 22,418.58 ha of forest land in Shivamogga, Chikkamagluru, Chitradurga and Davangere districts to MPM Ltd, a public sector unit for 40 years.