Saturday, October 20, 2007

Turahalli Layout?

October last year Turahalli land grabbing issue rocked the Karnataka Assembly. An investigation was ordered in the same month by the Lokayukta to look into the encroachment in the 597-acre Turahalli Minor Forest by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). Like any other investigation it was as inconclusive as it can be, it just blamed the forest department for not doing enough to prevent and told the BDA not to grab the land so boldly any more.

With all the drama of investigation nothing ‘actionable’ was really done or no one were ‘punished’ other than just asking the BDA to return the land. If the forest department did not raise the issue strong enough that does not give other government department the authority to do what it pleases. This has not only showed us how things will be done in the future but also exposed that every government department has its own agenda and is hand in glove with the builders to wipeout what ever is left of the forests. Preserving the forest and the wildlife is nobody else’s priority other that the forest department was the end message.

If at all there were voices from the environmental activists or a splash in the media, a committee or an investigation like this will be set up and at the end the land that was encroached or grabbed will be regularized in favor of the encroacher or grabber most of the time. One cannot just leave out Turahalli as an open-shut case; it has set a very strong precedent on how government agencies are committing a crime in the day light.

Going by the recent studies the forest cover in states like Karnataka is diminishing faster, % of forest cover to the geographical area in Karnataka is a mere 17% which is 2% less that the national average. A lot more need to be done to even protect what is left; the vision of having a stipulated 33% forest cover will just be a dream if there is a struggle to keep our current forest cover intact.

Its also heart breaking to see the magnificent hillock that has been the training area for many reputed rock climbers of Bangalore and a get away for all the nature lovers is fighting the greedy real estate biggies and our own government agencies for its survival.

The question that remains unanswered is do we ever get our government departments to function with a common vision, a vision that includes preservation of our forests and natural resources?


No comments: