Mangaluru, Feb 24, 2016 : The forest department’s survey to determine whether the land where the Dakshin Kannada district administration wants to construct its new office complex at Padil is deemed forest or not, was strongly contested by the advocate who had approached the NGT - National Green Tribunal .
The survey has identified only 66 of the 386 trees as naturally grown in the 5.89 acres and also determined the land was less than five acres by deducting areas where there were road and buildings.
Advocate Suma R Nayak, who attended the district committee meeting, said, "The district administration is trying to wriggle out of the criterion for deemed forests by showing that the land was less than five acres and there were only 66 naturally grown trees in the land. Moreover, there is no criterion mentioned about how the survey determined only 66 trees were naturally grown and others were not."
She also said there are more than 478 trees in the Padil land as per the reports of the departments of applied botany and applied zoology, Mangalore University. Thus the said land has to be construed as "deemed forest" and must be classified as such as it fulfils all field criteria.
The district committee to which the report was submitted was headed by deputy commissioner A B Ibrahim, who was one of the interested parties.
Ibrahim said, "I had written to state chief secretary regarding the problem and that I should be kept out of it", suggesting the zilla panchayat CEO to head the district committee.
But the chief secretary rejected this stating this cannot be considered as the committee was set up based on a government order. Based on the request, the Mysuru regional commissioner should review the report and send it to the government for approval.
The DC said that the Padil land has not been classified as ’deemed forest’, but was given to Karnataka State Forest Industries Corporation for wood preservation plant and was industrial land. "The objections of Suma will be included in the report to be sent to Mysuru Regional Commissioner. Although it was not mandatory to hear her insights, we had given a chance and we will include her objections," said the DK DC.
The fresh survey of the Padil land was ordered after NGT, based on an application by Suma, directed the classification of Padil land where the proposed district offices complex will come up.
After survey, the DC, one of the respondents, has to seek permission from the requisite authority to fell trees. Until permission is granted, the DC has been restrained from felling trees in the said land by the NGT.
The DC said nearly two-thirds of trees will be felled in that land in case permission was given and the complex would come up on two acres of land.