A group of environmentalists of Shivamogga, on Thursday, alleged that the State government was planning to handover acacia plantations developed by Mysore Paper Mills Pvt. Ltd. in forest land to private investors.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his son B.Y. Raghavendra, Lok Sabha member, have a special interest in handing over the forest land to private people, alleged K.P. Sripal, a leader of Nammurige Accacia Beda, a forum fighting against planting acacia in Shivamogga. The organisation has been demanding that acacia plantations, developed by MPM in over 20,000 ha, be withdrawn from the company and the place converted into a natural forest.
At a press conference in Shivamogga, Mr. Sripal and said the representatives of the forum recently met the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Bengaluru with an appeal not to renew the lease of forest land to MPM. “The officer spoke in favour of continuing the lease and asked us to talk to the Chief Minister and his son on our demand. This shows the father and son are in favour of handing over the precious forest land to private people”, he alleged.
Mr. Sripal also criticised Karnataka State Biodiversity Board chairman Anant Hegde Ashisar for maintaining silence on the issue. “If he is committed to conserving forest land, he should resign the post and join our efforts. So far he has not spoken on this issue.”
Mr. Sripal said the committee would intensify its protest if the government did not fulfil the demand. The committee would travel across the district to spread awareness among the public on the issue. “We will take over the land and distribute it among the landless people, if the government does not withdraw the land from MPM”, he said.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader K.T. Gangadhar said the government had brought in “anti-farmer” policies. “The amendments to the Land Reforms Act did show its true intentions. Concerning acacia plantations, the government has done the same. The land should be returned to the Forest Department”, he demanded.
Rajendra Chenni and others were present at the press conference.