Bengaluru: Waking up late, the Karnataka forest department has issued eviction notice to five encroachers from Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Belagavi district. The accused, according to the department, have encroached 26 acres of the sanctuary to plant cashew trees.
In its statement, the forest department said the encroachers had cut and burnt down trees to encroach the forest land. The department began the investigation in March after the incident came to their light. While the officials had registered a wildlife offence case in March, villagers living in the vicinity of the sanctuary pointed out why it took the forest department almost a month to present the accused before the judicial magistrate.
A local villager on the condition of anonymity said, “This is a failure of the Range Forest Officer. Such a large-scale encroachment in the sanctuary and no action has been taken against the officials. This is a dereliction of duty. Both Principal chief conservator of forest (head of forest force) and Chief Wildlife Warden must consider the issue seriously and take stringent action against officials and staff for their negligence of duty.”
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Rajiv Ranjan said, “I have checked the issue with the field officers of the Bhimgad wildlife sanctuary. This is an old encroachment and we have issued eviction notices.”
In a statement issued, the forest department said, “On March 14 we got to know that trees were cut and set on fire by some miscreants. We started the investigation then. Five accused have been apprehended for encroaching the sanctuary plouging the land to grow cashew trees. For trespassing the sanctuary they have been booked under the relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act and Karnataka Forest. On April 26, the accused were produced before the judicial magistrate.”