‘Land grabbers must be ousted’

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Bengaluru: Alleging that the dismantling of the task force set up in 2010 to recover encroached public land was politically motivated, social activist S.R. Hiremath urged the state government on Thursday to  reinstate it  and make sure that forest land and lakes lost to encroachers are returned to it.
 
“We welcome Chief Minister  Siddaramaiah’s decision to evict encroachments on government land, but the process has to be speeded up. We have already waged a legal war  against them and  have been requesting the government to  look into some high profile cases which need immediate attention,” Hiremath told reporters.
 
Arguing against  the  need to set up another committee to detail land encroachments in Bengaluru and the rest of the state, he  pointed out that two committees headed by V. Balasubramanian and MLA A.T. Ramaswamy respectively had already listed the extent of encroachments ongomal land, lakes and in forests.
 
“Despite several reviews there has been no progress in removing encroachments in  the forests, where some 1,65,000 acres have  been illegally occupied as have about one lakh acres of the Western Ghats. The task force had  visited Chikmagalur district in 2010 and booked over 7,000 cases of forest land encroachment, but more than 6,500  are still pending disposal,"  Hire­math deplored, adding that in Bengaluru  close to 20,000 acres of government land had been encroached on.
 
“A new estimation has revealed that in a radius of 18 kms 5,000 acres have been encroached in the BBMP area. Bengaluru has lost 2,800 acres of its lakes to encroachments and also Storm Water Drains which leads to flooding in the city every time it rains,” he noted.

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