Founder president of National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources (NCPNR) S R Hiremath has alleged that the evergreen forest in Salur and Bilalkoppa villages of Chikkamagalur district had been encroached upon and the forest wealth had been destroyed. Both the villages come under Western Ghats.
Addressing a press conference Hiremath alleged that the destruction of evergreen forest in Salur and Bilalkoppa villages of Narasimharajapura taluk was as serious as the mining scam of Bellary. He accused former minister and Sringeri MLA D N Jeevaraj of supporting those involved in encroachment.
Hiremath said a team of NCPNR which visited the area on July 6-7 found that "most brazen and irreparable destruction of nearly 20 acres of evergreen forest near Bhadra backwater which is the heart of the Western Ghats had been done". The destruction was in the adjoining lands (Survey No. 105) owned by one H M Manu, Hiremath alleged.
"The destruction took place for nearly one year and it is strange that the forest department officials turned a blind eye to the complaints filed by the villagers. When the villagers complained, and the officials concerned exchanged letters, but failed to take action citing various reasons, he added. He pointed out that the Supreme Court in its order on the writ petition (civil) No 202 of T N Godavarman Thirumulkpad vs Union of India & Others on December 12, 1996 stated that the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 must apply to all forests irrespective of the nature of ownership or classification. It is strange that the forest department officials were ignorant of this order, Hiremath said. He added that the politicians and the officials involved in this crime should be prosecuted.