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19 November, 2007

Filing RTI application to get info on forests

Dear friends,

You may find the following information useful incase you have decided to file an application under Right to Information (RTI) Act to get any information relating to forests or forest department.


You can use the following application format
(click here to see a sample of questions you can ask)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Form A(u/s. 6(1) and 7(1) of Right to Information Act – 2005)


To
Pubic Information Officer
Office of (Deputy Commissioner / Deputy Conservator of Forests / CEO, ZP etc)
Address of the office:


1. Applicant’s Name:


2. Applicant’s Address:


3. Details of document/s requested:
a)
b)
c)
d)

4. Year to which the document/s pertain: As stated above or till date

5. Details of amount paid: Indian Postal Order No:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date:

Place: Signature of the applicant

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Application received by:
(Name, Signature with office seal and date)

----------------------------------------

PLEASE NOTE THE PROCEDURE:

1) Type your questions in the above format and print two copies of the same. Make sure all the details printed clearly.

2) Buy one Indian Postal Order of Rs.10 denomination from a post office.

3) Address the postal order to the concerned officer: For example - (Deputy Commissioner / Deputy Conservator of Forests / CEO, ZP etc)

4) Enter the individual postal order number in the application (in the Details of the amount paid' column').

5) IMPORTANT: Keep the other half of the copy of the Postal order with you as a proof of payment.

6) Submit one copy of the application form with your original signature at the office.

7) Get signature and seal along with the name and date from the person recieving the application, on the other copy.

8) You don't have to answer a lot of questions when you are filing the applications. It is your right to get the information and you don't need to answer any one verbally on what you have written.

9) The office has no right to refuse your application. If they do so, ask them to give in writing that they are refusing your application. You can then file an application with the information commissioner to have the head of that office (DC, DCF, CEO, Secretary etc) summoned.

'Winged guests from Pak surprise bird watchers'

View of the Tumakuru Amanikere wetland inside Tumakuru City, with the backdrop of the granite hill range of Devarayanadurga state forest

Dear bird lovers,

The winter is here, so are our winged visitors from all over Northern Hemisphere.

Check the story and pictures below. I have made the bird pictures using my spotting scope, hence they might not be the best.

Warm regards,
Ameen

SOURCE:
The New Indian Express, Bangalore, Nov. 19, 2007, Page 5

http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEK20071118231133&Page=K&Headline=Winged+guests+from+Pak+surprise+bird+watchers&Title=Southern+News+%2D+Karnataka&Topic=0

-------------Quote-------------
'Winged guests from Pak surprise bird watchers'
By Devaraj B Hirehalli
Tumkur, Nov. 18: Obviously it's not the emergency in Pakistan which pushed the 'common swallow' birds to Tumkur, but it could be the warmth of the winter season.

This time the pleasant climate and temperature between 15-20 degrees centigrade might be the factor which is wooing the winged guests.

Migratory swift birds with a forked tail usually sighted in the mountain region of Pakistan were among the birds which arrived at the Amanikere tank here.

The marsh harrier from Europe, common Sandipiper from Siberia and reed warbler from the Himalayas are the newcomers sighted here to the surprise of bird watchers.

The spotbilled ducks from the western ghats with their vanity and the locally found black and white kingfisher mesmerise bird lovers.

Besides, birds like mallard, goose, pitta, shoveller etc are expected here in the next 15-20 days, according to Ameen Ahmed, an ornithologist.

Informal hosts like coot, purple moorhen, pheasant tailed Jacana, little and large cormorant (neer kaage in Kannada), brahminy kite and pariah kite too made the 'weedy' tank their temporary home.

As the tank recieved copious inflow of water due to incessant rains this year, the availability of prey which includes insects, reptiles, fish etc, made the birds throng it in good numbers.

The tank has been hosting the winged visitors whenever it brimmed. It has recieved painted storks, pelicans and goose earlier.

As the release of sewage water to the tank was checked by the authorities, it helped the tank improve its ecology and marine life.

But birdwatchers Sachin and Inder from Greenpeace (an NGO), are concerned about the tank being polluted due to the unabated dumping of solid waste.

-------------Unquote-------------


A Common (or Siberian) stonechat


A Common Sandpiper


WANC members were joined by street kids to see the winged visitors


Watching out for the migrants



Egrets and a buffalo in the wetland



A pair of Brahminy Kites



A Purple Moorhen

Below is the Tumakuru Amanikere, as seen on Google maps:


View Larger Map

19 October, 2007

Inquiry ordered into tree felling in Devarayanadurga forests (Oct. 07)

Dear all,

The nature lovers in our media have helped immensely in the recent expose of irregularities in Devarayanadurga's jungles. Media of Tumakuru City were among those who caught the forest minister's gunman felling trees inside Devarayanadurga State Forest this Wednesday. The stories carried out by Devaraj, District Correspondent of The New Indian Express and Chandru, TV9 Tumakuru correspondent were noticed by Karnataka's Anti-corruption department(Lokayukta). The Deputy Chief of Karnataka's Lokayukta (Upa-Lokayukta) has ordered an enquiry into this. Please read the story at the end of this email.

In conservation,
Ameen

----------------------------------------------------------
SOURCE:
The New Indian Express, Bangalore - State, Page 6
Friday, October 19, 2007

-------Quote-------

INQUIRY INTO CHARGES AGAINST CHENIGAPPA'S GUNMAN, OFFICIALS
Bangalore, Oct 18:

Upalokayukta Justice G Patri Basavana Goud on Tursday ordered a prelimnary inquiry against gunman of former forest minister C Chennigappa amd two forest officials for allegedly felling trees inthe Devarayanadurga Reserve Forest. Taking suo-muto notics of a news report that appeared in 'The NewIndian Express' on Thursday with regard to illegal felling of trees,the Upalokayukta has directed Conservator of Forests, Bangalore Circle, UV Singh to conduct a prelimnary inquiry and submit a report within one month. Based on the report, the Upalokayukta will decide whether or not a regular investigation under section 9 of the Lokayukta Act should be initiated. The report stated that Chennigappa's gunman Hanumanthappa was caught red-handed while fellingtrees and shifting logs from the forest.

-----Unquote-----

Please read yesterday's story on the gunman being caught at http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEK20071018021527&Page=K&Headline=Chennigappa%92s+gunman+caught+felling+trees&Title=Southern+News+%2D+Karnataka&Topic=0

Forest minister's gunman caught felling trees in Devarayanadurga jungles (Oct. 07)




















SOURCE:
The New Indian Express, Bangalore - State, Page 6
October 18, 2007

http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEK20071018021527&Page=K&Headline=Chennigappa%92s+gunman+caught+felling+trees&Title=Southern+News+%2D+Karnataka&Topic=0

------------------Quote---------------------

Chennigappa's gunman caught felling trees
Express News Service

Tumkur,Oct 17:
President's rule seems to have no impact on former forest minister C Chenigappa's chelas. They continue to fell trees and lift them illegally from the Devarayanadurga reserve forest, 12 km from here. Hanumanthappa, gunman of the former minster, was caught red handed onWednesday, while felling tres and shifting logs from the forests. Some people hired by the gunman and some Forest Department workers werespotted axing the trees and loading the logs into a tractor. His home village Bandihalli is about 10 km from the spot. When environmentalists and mediamen qustioned him, Hanumanthappa claimed that he had taken permission from Assistant Conservator ofForests Srinivas and RFO Krishnappa. According to him, section forester Rakesh conducted a 'mahajr' by visiting the spot and gave a green signal to axe an old tree. A huge tree was axed along with several young trees. DCF Paramesh could not be contacted as his mobile was switched off. Local forest officials 'co-operated' with the law-breakers in the forests made it clear that they have to follow 'instructions from the top brass'.

------------------Unquote---------------------

18 October, 2007

Anti-Corruption police chief inspects illegal forest road (Oct 2007)

Dear all,

Last Friday (12th October 2007) afternoon, I had been to the office ofthe Superintendent of Police, Lokayukta (Anti-corruption) Tumakuru, regarding the irregularities inside Devarayanadurga. After explaining him the situation, I offered to take him to Chinnaga. He readily accepted. I was surprised how a cop would accept to visit the forest with me in half an hour but the District's forest officials failed to do this even 4 months after filing the 1st written complaint (in June2007).

Myself and Mallikarjun went with him. The situation was the same inChinnaga area- there was sand lifting from the areas where the road has been built, people are taking out felled trees and there is illegal stone lifting going besides the road. The SP saw all this.While returning back to Swandenahalli village the SP himself enquired with the village road contractor asking him about the persons behind the Chinnaga road. The local village contractor told that the particular contractor who carried out blasting and felling in forestand the work in Chinnaga area was one Mr.Prakash of the nearby Birenahalli in Tumakuru Taluk. And guess what...the funds were directly provided by Tumkauru MLA, from his constituency development fund! The SP was not happy about this. He was convinced with our efforts and said he would summon the local RFO/ACF and AEE, ZP to seek an explanation on who is behind this road. After that, we took the SPto Devarayanadurga Wireless tower via Belagumba Village and Namadachelume. All along the way we showed and explained him the tree felling inside the reserve forest.

Following up with this, I filed a complaint of corruption and maladministration with the Lokayukta of Karnataka, Bangalore against the following forest officers incharge of this road:
- DCF, Tumakuru Territorial Division
- ACF, Tumakuru Territorial Sub-Division
- RFO, Tumakuru Territorial Range
- Forester, Swandenahalli/Chinnaga section, Tumakuru Territorial Range
- Forest Guard, Swandenahalli/Chinnaga section, Tumakuru Territorial Range

Kindly read details of the complaint at: http://tumkurenvironment.blogspot.com/2007/10/complaint-with-lokayukta-karnataka.html

You can monitor http://tumkurenvironment.blogspot.com for new developments on this and related issues.

In conservation,

Ameen

Ameen Ahmed
WANC,
Tumakuru

Complaint with Lokayukta Karnataka against maladministration in Devarayanadurga Forests (Oct 07)

Dear nature lovers,

The following is the text of complaint (Case no: COMPT/ LOK/ BD/112/2007) that I filed with Lokayukta Karnataka against the maladminstration and corruption inside Devarayanadurga State Forest.

In conservation,
Ameen

-------------------------------------

From
Ameen Ahmed
Tumakuru – 5721 01

To
The Lokayukta
Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Road
MS Building
Bangalore – 5600 01

Date: 16 October, 2007
Sir,

Sub: Complaint against maladministration and looting of public wealth in Devarayanadurga State Forest, Tumakuru Taluk

Under the preview of the existing Forest Conservation Act (1980) and also under the Honourable Supreme Court of India’s order dated 12/12/1996 in the Godavarman Thirumalpad vs Union of India case prior clearance has to be taken to carry any development activity in a forest or to fell trees. In Tumakuru’s Devarayanadurga and its surrounding state forests today the law of the land seems non-existent due to a dysfunctional forest department.

The following are specific complaints:
1) lllegal road
Inside the north boundary of the Devarayanadurga state forest (see # 1 in enclosed map), is a 8-feet wide cart track that connects Swandenahalli and Durgadahalli villages (see copy of original notification of Devarayanadurga Forest in enclosure 2). A couple of kilometres off this track lies a temple dedicated to Lord Rangaswamy, popularly known as Chinnaga Rangaswamy temple. Occasional devotees from Swandenahalli and nearby villages visit this temple within the forest boundaries and there is an annual ‘Jathra’ (religious gathering). Recently, the above track has recently been broadened (pictures enclosed) to accommodate tractors, vans, lorries and similar vehicles without permission from the Forest Department or the Government of India under Forest Conservation Act (1980). Though the road expansion has taken place in the name of temple, the reality is different. In June 2007, members of Tumakuru-based Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) Sri. Guru Prasad (Guru) and Sri. Mallikarjun.M (Mallik) visited this region for bird watching and found to their shock that trees inside the forest were being felled, rocks quarried and being carried away out of the forest (pictures enclosed). On 12th June, 2007 Sri. Mallikarjun immediately complained in writing to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Tumakuru, along with pictures (copy of letter and acknowledgement enclosed). To find out if his letter had made any difference, Sri.Mallikarjun again went to Chinnagara betta on 9th Sep' 07. But, he saw four tree cutters in action without any fear. The forest wealth was flowing outside without any obstruction or probably even with full support of forest department. During this visit they found out that the Chinnagara betta road work had in fact been completed despite the complaint. Also as we write this letter to you, this illegal road work is continuing, trees are being cut, rocks being blasted, sand being illegally lifted and the forest being destroyed. We have information that the road work is being funded by a prominent politician from Tumkur and the work is being carried out by a contractor named Sri. Prakash of Byrenahalli in Tumakuru Taluk. The local forest officials are hand in glove with the forest looters to gain political favours from the politician funding this project.

2) Illegal power line
Apart from this, many mature trees have been felled on the road from Belagumba to Navodaya School (see # 2 in enclosed map) to lay a new power line (pictures enclosed). According to the Forest Conservation Act (1980) any development work inside a forest requires prior clearance from the Government of India. We have information that this work is being carried without the required official clearances. The forest department has not given written permission to fell the trees. We suspect the local forest officials to have granted the tree felling for monetary favours.

3) Illicit tree felling
Since 1997, hundreds of mature trees have been felled in Devarayanadurga and its nearby state forests. Even as we write this, many are being felled. The trees are first debarked clandestinely and let to die a natural death (pictures enclosed). Then they are felled in the name of removing dry wood (pictures enclosed). Trees are being ruthlessly felled here even during daytime. Even on informing the forest department about these events, it is taking no action. Among such places is the Girlakatte valley (see # 3 in enclosed map). In early and mid-90s, this valley had so many trees that it used to be dark even in summer when we used to walk on the path under the canopy of these trees. The same has happened with the canopy behind Rama Lakshmana trees on the 5th mile stone – Namadachelume road (see # 4 in enclosed map). The sad part is that the forest department is not even willing to stop those who are carrying away the felled trees (pictures enclosed).

4) The forest department is not monitoring the entry and exit of vehicles in these forests despite the forest having natural resources and trees worth hundreds of crores of rupees (pictures enclosed).

5) The forest department is hiding information regarding the illegal road and illegal power line and are not responding to complaints and request to provide information related to these two. Sri.Mallikarjun did not get any written response to his letter to the DCF dated 12th June 2007. He filed an application on 10th September 2007 with the forest department, seeking information on the above issues under the Right to Information Act (RTI). But despite the passing of deadline to provide the applicant with the information, the forest department has withheld the information (copy of RTI application and acknowledgement enclosed).

Note: The Superintendent of Police, Lokayukta Tumakuru accompanied myself and Sri.Mallikarjun to this illegal road on Friday, 11 October 2007. We kindly request you to speak to him to confirm our allegations.

Why save Devarayanadurga?
Sir, Tumakuru lies in the south-eastern part of Karnataka state and is among the driest regions of India. Every tree counts and every inch of forest matters, as it is crucial to conserving the region's water sources and tapering the hot summers. Devarayanadurga forest gives birth to tens of streams and feeds thousands of wells in the surrounding villages. The forest is the catchment area of two rivers Jaya and Mangali that are dammed at Irrakasandra Project and Teeta Dam at Goravanahalli. All these water bodies will dry up and cause untold misery and suffering to tens of thousands of villagers depending on them. Hence, it is crucial to save Devarayanadurga forest.

Thanking you.

Yours faithfully,

Ameen Ahmed

Encl:
1) Map of Devarayanadurga forests, from the 1:50,000 scale Survey of India 57 G/3 sheet.
2) Page from original notification of Devarayanadurga State forest showing no existence of any track from the Swandenahalli – Durgadahalli cart track to Chinnadga temple.
3) Pictures showing the illegally built road to Chinnaga temple inside Devarayanadurga forest boundaries and the illegal activities inside.
4) Complained by Sri.Mallikarjun M to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Tumakuru against the illegal road dated 12th June 2007.
5) Picture of mature trees felled illegally on the road from Belagumba to Navodaya School to lay a new power line.
6) Picture of trees being debarked clandestinely and let to die a natural death.
7) Picture of a tree felled by tree looters.
8) Picture of tree feller carrying away wood on the Oordigere-Belagumba main road.
9) Copy of application filed by Sri.Mallikarjun.M and the acknowledgement with the forest department, seeking information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on 10th September 2007.
10) Picture of the wetlands that get filled by the forests of Devarayanadurga.
11) Story on the illegal road from The Hindu newspaper.

15 October, 2007

Tree looters feasting on Devarayanadurga jungles

Since 1997, hundreds of mature trees have been felled in Devarayanadurga and its nearby state forests.

Even as we write this, many are being felled. The trees are first debarked clandestinely and let to die a natural death.

A view of one of the half cut trees.

Then they are felled in the name of removing dry wood.


A felled tree besides the Namadachelume-Devarayanadurga main road.

Trees are being ruthlessly felled here even during daytime. Even on informing the forest department about these events, it is taking no action. Among such places is the Girlakatte valley. In early and mid-90s, this valley had so many trees that it used to be dark even in summer when we used to walk on the path under the canopy of these trees. The same has happened with the canopy behind Rama Lakshmana trees on the 5th mile stone – Namadachelume road.

The sad part is that the forest department is not even willing to stop those who are carrying away the felled trees.

A happy tree man carrying away wood from jungle on his bicycle, on the Belagumba-Oordigere main road.

06 October, 2007

Revenue forests of Devarayanadurga Hills face destruction

The above picture is of the forests in revenue land besides Devarayanadurga village adjoining Devarayanadurga State Forest in Tumkur Taluk.
Background:
Devarayanadurga State Forest is about 42 sq. km large. There are many revenue lands adjoining the boundaries of this state forest that have forests in them. Though unprotected, rare wildlife like panthers, sloth bears and Yellowthroated Bulbuls thrive in them and they are the source of many streams and water courses. 
According to the H'ble Supreme Court's judgement in the Godavaraman Thirumalpad vs Union of India, any Government land that has tree cover is a 'deemed forest'. Nature lovers of Tumakuru want the Government of Karnataka to declare these 'revenue' forests as Reserve Forest using its powers under section 4 of Karnataka Forest Act (1963). Please read the below release on this issue.

Press Release
The Tumkauru Division of Karnataka Forest Department had stated in its reply to an application by wildlife activist Ameen Ahmed under Right to Information Act that no forests exist in the revenue land adjoining the boundaries of the State Forests of Devarayanadurga, Panditanhalli and Ramadevara Betta. This information is misleading. The Survey of India Sheet No: 57 G/3 of 1:50,000 scale clearly shows that there are numerous Revenue lands that have “fairly dense scrub jungle” around Kambakallu betta, Hosati kallu betta, Chinnagara betta, Devarayanadurga hill, Talavara betta and Sigekoppalu betta. Satellite images are available on the internet for every one to see that the information provided by the forest department is wrong.

The Revenue forests adjoining Devarayanadurga State Forest boundaries are in great demand for quarrying and hence the forest department is under pressure not to treat these as forest areas. WANC takes serious objection to this. WANC urges Government of Karnataka to invoke its authority under section 3 and 4 of the Karnataka Forest Act (1963) and declare these as reserve forests by retaining the legitimate rights of the local villagers over these lands. According to the Supreme Court judgement in the Godavarman Thirumalmad vs Union of India case, any forest even under control of revenue department is a ‘deemed forest’ and should be protected.

Apart from being the catchment area of hundreds of streams and many lakes/tanks, the forests of Devarayanadurga hills - both within the boundaries of Devarayanadurga State Forest as well as the Revenue forests adjoining it, are home to rare and endangered wildlife like tiger, leopard, deer, sloth bear and more than 250 species of birds. Among them is a rare and endemic bird species – the Yellow Throated Bulbul (Pncnonotus xantholaemus). This bird is found only in a few areas of south India including Devarayanadurga forest and no where else on earth.

Since the forest department is not protecting the revenue forests they are being destroyed at a fast pace. On 21 September 2007, a survey was being done on the road from Devarayanadurga Village that leads to Police Wireless Station and Yoganarasimha Swamy Temple on top of the Devarayanadurga Hill. The surveyors informed WANC members that the survey was being done as per a private electronic company’s plans to widen the road. This patch of hill is visited by people from all over the world to see the Yellowthroated Bulbul, which is found there in good numbers. This is one of the few patches in entire Eastern Karnataka, where wild Hanuman Langurs can be seen roaming freely. Any widening of the road will have a direct impact on the area’s wildlife, as it will involve uprooting shrubs, thorny plants and small stones and boulders, apart from the noise pollution. The existing traffic on the stretch of road that is being widened does not warrant it to be widened.

WANC has written to the Managing Director of the company requesting it not to go ahead with this proposed road expansion plan. Already Tumakuru Town has suffered a lot from destruction of trees in the name of road widening and the same should not be repeated in Devarayanadurga Hills. Simultaneously, WANC has urged the Deputy Commissioner, Tumakuru to stop this roadwork as it amounts to violation of the Honourable Supreme Court of India's judgement in the Godavarman Thirumalpad vs Union of India case. WANC has also sought the intervention of the PCCF (Wildlife) of Karnataka and the Conservator of Forests, Hassan Circle to direct the DCF, Tumakuru to stop this road as it is a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).
Survey of India Sheet No: 57 G/3 of 1:50,000 showing “fairly dense scrub jungle” in the Revenue land around Kambakallu betta, Hosati kallu betta, Chinnagara betta, Devarayanadurga hill, Talavara betta and Sigekoppalu betta.
This road leading to the PWD Bungalow/Police wireless station from Devarayanadurga village/Namada Chelume is being expanded destroying the wildlife habitat around it.
The slopes of Devarayanadurga hill clothed by forests belonging to the revenue department. In the backdrop are the lakes that are filled by streams that flow out of these forests.
A langur in the revenue forests adjoining the boundaries of Devarayanadurga State Forest in the north, just below the Yoganarasimha Temple. Below is a cropped close-up of the langur in the above image

News links:
http://kannadaprabha.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=KPD20071018015638&Title=District+Page&lTitle=%C1%DBd%C0+%C8%DB%7D%E6%25&Topic=0&dName=%7D%DA%DF%C8%DA%DFO%DA%E0%C1%DA%DF&Dist=4

RTI replies on forest offences etc, Sep 07

Dear WANCers,

Please find below the responses recieved by Ameen's querries filed with the DCF under the RTI in Aug 07.

Some of the responses are very interesting. It has been replied that only 11 dead Jalari trees have been removed from the whole of Tumkur Division since 1997, while it is also replied that 12 Jalari trees have been removed from Devarayanadurga alone during the same period.

Also it has been replied that there has been no Eucalyptus removal from the entire Tumkur Division from 1997 to 2003. But details have been provided for the eucalyptus removed for 1997-98 and 2000-2001. Are you confused? Read on....

Regards,
Ameen


Replies to information asked by Shri.Ameen Ahamed, Ghouse Buildings, Horpet Main Road, Tumkur

Sl No. Information asked Reply
1. How many tree-felling cases have been booked since 1997 till date in the above forests?
A) Devarayanadurga 32
B) Panditanahalli 02
C) R.D Betta 03

2. How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
All compoundable offence cases have been compounded as per power vested with the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Tumkur. The material involved in those cases either released after recovery of value, or confiscated to Government and sold in Public Auction. Revenue remitted to Government.

3. How many forest offence cases including illegal quarrying, illegal sand lifting and encroachment cases have been booked since 1997 till date in the above forests?
Illegal Quarrying: Nil
Illegal sand lifting: 33 cases
Encroachment: Nil

4. How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
All the sand lifting cases have been compounded and released.

5. How many dead trees have been removed since 1997 in the above forests?
Jalari trees 12
Teak 01
Tamarind Tree 01

6. How many Eucalyptus trees have been removed since 1997 in the above forests?
Eucalyptus trees have been extracted by M/s KSFIC, Bangalore. The number of trees
not available. However extent is given below


1997-98 – 74 Ha
2000-01 – 101 Ha
2003-04 – 195 Ha

7. How many trees have been felled for road widening since 1997 in the above forests?
Nil

8. Does the forest department have records of the area of forest cover under Revenue Department adjoining the boundaries of these forests? If yes, how many hectares of forest is controlled by the revenue department?
No forest area is under Revenue Department.
No forest is being controlled by the Revenue Department.


Signed –
Assistant Conservator of Forests &
TA to Deputy Conservator of Forests
Tumkur Division, Tumkur and ASPIO

Replies to information asked by Shri.Ameen Ahamed, Ghouse Buildings, Horpet Main Road, Tumkur

Sl No. Information asked Reply
1. How many forest offence cases including illegal quarrying, illegal sand lifting and encroachment cases have been booked since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
1) Tree felling 637
2) Illegal Quarrying 50
3) Sand lifting 65
4) Encroachment 274


2. How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
All compoundable offence cases have been compounded and the material confiscated to
Government have been sold in public Auction and revenue remitted to Government
except 71A cases and sandalwood cases.

71 A cases are being tried by the authorized officer and Deputy Conservator of
Forests, Tumkur.

Sandalwood cases have been referred to the concerned jurisdiction Judicial courts.

3. How many dead trees have been removed since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
Tamarind: 01
Jalari: 11
Teak: 01

4. How many Eucalyptus trees have been removed from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
In Tumkur Territorial Division since 1997 to 2003 no Eucalyptus trees were removed in State Forest and Reserve Forest. However since 2003 to 2007 KSFIC have extracted the Eucalyptus trees in the State Forest and Reserve Forest. is as follows:-

2003-04 230.00 Ha
2004-05 1527.00 Ha
2005-06 451.00 Ha
2006-07 81.00 Ha

5. How many trees have been felled for road widening since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
No trees have been felled for road widening since 1997 to date inside State and Reserved Forest of Tumkur Territorial Division

6. How much money has been spent n roadside tree planting since 1997 inside the state and reserve forests in Tumkur Territorial Division? Nil

7. Does the Tumkur Territorial Division maintain satellite images of the division's forest cover? If yes, what is the period of updating these records?
Not maintained
Not applicable

Signed –
Assistant Conservator of Forests &
TA to Deputy Conservator of Forests
Tumkur Division, Tumkur and ASPIO

23 September, 2007

Who is behind the "Ghost" road to Chinga Temple inside Devarayanadurga State Forest?

Dear nature lovers,

Mallikarjun filed two more RTI applications to find out who exactly is involved in the construction of the road to Chinga Rangaswamy Temple from Swandenahalli village. The RTI application is included below.

As Mallik has mentioned, the said road as it is today, never existed in the original notification of DD nor did it exist in the Survey Map of 1972. It neither existed in today's condition when UV Singh was the DFO nor did it when Guru and myself visited it during the time of MN Narayanaswamy in 2000-2001.

Did it appear over night out of nowhere? Who is behind it? Who are the authorities who should be punished for this? These are the questions to which we would like to have the answers. That is the reason behind all these applications and complaints.

Thanks,
Ameen

----------------------------------------------------

To
Pubic Information Officer
Office of CEO
Zilla Panchayat
Tumkur

Form A
(u/s. 6(1) and 7(1) of Right to Information Act – 2005)

1. Applicant's Name: Mallikarjun M

2. Applicant's address:

3. Details of document/s requested: Request to provide information regarding the below as I am an affected party, under section 4 (1) (d) of RTI (2005).

1) Has the Zilla Panchayat sanctioned any funds to build or repair or for any development work around Chinnaga Rangaswamy Temple (located near Chinnaga Betta, Swandenahalli Village) in Tumkur Taluk since 1997 till date?

2a) If answer to above question no: 1 is Yes, then in which year or years, were the funds sanctioned?
2b) For what purpose/work were the funds sanctioned?
2c) What is the total amount of funds (in Rupees) sanctioned for the purpose in the above question 2b?
2d) Who was the authority that authorized the work, either Gram Panchayat or Mandal Panchayat or others?

3) Has the Zilla Panchayat sanctioned any funds for building or repair work of the road, path, culverts, bridges or drainages from Swandenahalli Village leading to Chinnaga Rangaswamy Temple inside Devarayanadurga forest in Tumkur Taluk since 1997 till date?

4a) If answer to above question no: 3 is Yes, in which year (or years), were the works sanctioned?
4b) What is the length of the road/path for which the funds were sanctioned?
4c) What is the total amount of funds (in Rupees) sanctioned for the purpose in the above question 4b?
4d) Who was the authority that authorized the work, either Gram Panchayat or Mandal Panchayat or others?

5) Is the Zilla Panchayat planning to sanction any work/fund to build or repair or any development work around Chinnaga Rangaswamy Temple (located near Chinnaga Betta, Swandenahalli Village), in Tumkur Taluk as of 2007-2008?

6) Is the Zilla Panchayat planning to sanction any work/fund for building or repair of the road, path, culverts, bridges or drainages from Swandenahalli Village leading to Chinnaga Rangaswamy Temple inside Devarayanadurga forest in Tumkur Taluk as of 2007-2008?

4. Year to which the document/s pertain: As mentioned above

5. Details of amount paid: Paid by Indian Postal Order:

Date:

Place:
Signature of the applicant

------------------

For other posts on this please see:
> Devarayanadurga's Chinga area...the looting continues

> Road from Swandenahalli to Durgadahalli destroys prime area of Devarayana Durga State Forest

> RTI applications filed for info on forests of Tumkur Dist.


> 'Roadworks in reserve forest rile greens' (The Hindu, June 29, 2007)

Trees felled inside Devarayanadurga Reserve Forest for new power line

As you all know, recently there have been many trees that have been felled inside Devarayanadurga Reserve Forest along the Belaguba-Oordigere Road to lay a new power line to Navodaya School.

As we understand, the agency that lays a power line inside a reserve forest should meet the conditions under various forest and environmental Acts of our country.

Mallikarjun has already filed an RTI application with the Forest Department, Tumkur to find out if the forest department has imposed any such conditions on the agency that is laying the power line. To make sure that we get the correct information, I filed a similar application with the BESCOM (previously KEB) on 22 Sep '07 (Please see the RTI application at the end of thi email)

I over heard one of the official there saying Navodaya School is laying down the power line on its own and BESCOM has nothing to do with the actual laying of power line or tree felling. If this is true, then the forest department is wrong in giving permission to any body to cut trees for their own developmental project, without prior clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India (under Forest Conservation Act, 1980).

I am waiting to get the official response to find out the truth.

Thanks,
Ameen

A view of the Belaguma Village - Oorigere Village road that passes through Devarayanadurga State Forest, besides which the trees have been felled.


An electric pole that has been errected in place of the felled trees.


A mature Tamarind tree that was felled.








A butterfly that was photographed near the felled trees.The trees and its surroundings hold rich biodiversity.





Bare stumps are all that remain...


Even small trees were not spared the axe...


The sad view again...

---The RTI application---

To
Pubic Information Officer
Office of Divisional Engineer
BESCOM Tumkauru Division
Tumakuru Town

Form A
(u/s. 6(1) and 7(1) of Right to Information Act – 2005)

Details of document/s requested Request to provide following information

1a) Whether any clearance conditions were imposed on BESCOM by
Karnataka Forest Department to lay the new power transmission line
through Devarayanadurga State Forest besides the Belagumba-Oordigere
Road leading to Navodaya School near Janapanahalli, in Tumkauru Taluk?
1b) If yes, kindly provide the details of the conditions imposed.1c)
Have the same conditions been met?

2a) How many numbers of trees will be cut for the above mentioned
power transmission line?
2b) Whether any clearance conditions have been imposed on BESCOM by
the Karnataka Forest Department, under any Forest and Environmental
Act to cut the above trees?
2c) Have the same conditions been met by BESCOM?

4. Year to which the document/s pertain Till date or as mentioned above
5. Details of amount paid Indian Postal Order:


Date: 22nd September 2007

Place: Tumakuru
Signature of the applicant

Devarayanadurga's Chinga area...the looting continues

First, the Forest Department allowed the illegal construction of a road inside, probably, Devarayanadurga's most densly forested area...


The tree looters followed soon. They cut the trees with impunity...


Then they tie the logs to the their bicycles...




They then ride away as freely as they entered the forest. All this while the forest officials sleep away on this problem...


Hi,

I had again been to Chinagara betta on 9th Sep'07 with Gundappa mestru. We were lucky enough to spot the Frogs heaven, Mestru could identify 3 species of frogs by their calls, Painted frog, Marballed frog, Indian Bull frog. I cud enjoy the sight thro my binacs.

Later we took Chinagara betta road and drove.... Once again we saw a beautiful Ground Orchid. We reached the check dam, which was full.

We saw four tree cutters doing their destructional work without any fear. I am attaching some of the photos by which one can judge the amount of forest wealth flowing outside without any obstruction or I may say with full support of KFD.

Once we started ascending the betta we were surprised to see that the road to Chinagara betta is complete, added to this there were cars and vans just infront of the temple. As per the Topo sheet there's no road, not even a foot path to Ranga swamy temple, but today a road which is better than any road in Tumkur city is laid. There's no surprise if KFD or KSTDC plans for a lodge near the temple......

Mallik

Previous posts and stories on this problem:
Road from Swandenahalli to Durgadahalli destroys prime area of Devarayana Durga State Forest

'Roadworks in reserve forest rile greens' (The Hindu, June 29, 2007)

12 September, 2007

RTI applications filed for info on forests of Tumkur Dist.

Dear Nature lovers,

Nature lovers Mallik (Mallikarjun) and Ameen (Ameen Ahmed) have filed 2 applications each under the Right to Information Act (2005), seeking information on forests of Tumkur. Many of these questions refer to Devarayanadurga State Forest, in tune with our latest efforts to save it from total destruction.

We are awaiting the answers to these questions.

I. 25th August 2007: Application no: 1 filed by Ameen

Request to provide following information with reference to Devarayanadurga, Panditanahalli and Ramadevara Betta state forests in Tumkur Territorial Range
1) How many tree-felling cases have been booked since 1997 till date in th above forests?
2) How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
3) How many forest offence cases including illegal quarrying, illegal sand lifting and encroachment cases have been booked since 1997 till date in the above forests?
4) How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
5) How many dead trees have been removed since 1997 in the above forests?
6) How many Eucalyptus trees have been removed since 1997 in the above forests?
7) How many trees have been felled for road widening since 1997 in the above forests?
8) Does the forest department have records of the area of forest cover under Revenue Department adjoining the boundaries of these forests? If yes, how many hectares of forest is controlled by the revenue department?

II. 25th August 2007: Application no: 2 filed by Ameen

Request to provide following information with reference to state and reserve forests of Tumkur Division
1) How many forest offence cases including illegal quarrying, illegal sand lifting and encroachment cases have been booked since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
2) How many of these cases have been proved in the court?
3) How many dead trees have been removed since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
4) How many Eucalyptus trees have been removed since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
5) How many trees have been felled for road widening since 1997 from the state and reserve forests of Tumkur Territorial Division?
6) How much money has been spent on roadside tree planting since 1997 inside the state and reserve forests in Tumkur Territorial Division?
7) Does the Tumkur Territorial Division maintain satellite images of the division’s forest cover? If yes, what is the period of updating these records?


III. 10th September 2007: Application no: 1 filed by Mallik

1a) Whether any action has been taken regarding my complaint letter to you dated June 12, 2007 with the subject “Tree felling, blasting of rocks and forest destruction to build road inside Devarayana Durga state forest”.
1b) If action is taken, kindly provide me with a copy of the Action Taken Report.
1c) If action not taken, kindly provide the reasons for the delay in taking action, as I am an affected party under section 4 (1) (d) of RTI (2005).

2a) Whether any action has been taken regarding complaint letter to you dated 2 July, 2007 with subject “Complaint against illegal expansion of Giregowdanahalli – Maidenahalli / Hosahalli 'kachcha' road / cart track inside Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve, Madhugiri Taluk, Tumkur District”
2b) If action is taken, kindly provide me with a copy of the Action Taken Report.
2c) If action not taken, kindly provide the reasons for the delay in taking action, as I am an affected party under section 4 (1) (d) of RTI (2005).

3a) Whether any action has been taken with reference to the two cases filed by forest department on 8th and 9th June 2002 against the road widening inside Devarayanadurga state forest near Devarayanadurga village without permission from the Forest department? Please refer letter dated 12 June 2002, No:VA AA KA: TUVA: A. Kra.Dooru: G.L:157:2002-03 by Range Forest Officer (Tumkur Territorial Range) to Ameen Ahmed, Wildlife Aware Nature Club, Tumkur.
3b) If action taken, kindly provide me with a copy of the Action Taken Report.
3c) If action not taken, kindly provide the reasons for the delay in taking action, as I am an affected party under section 4 (1) (d) of RTI (2005).

IV. 10th September 2007: Application no: 2 filed by Mallik

1a) Whether clearance conditions imposed by MoEF for forest and environmental clearances including those under Forest Conservation Act (1980) have been complied with by agency that is the laying the new powerline through Devarayanadurga State Forest besides the Oordigere Road leading to Navodaya School near Janapanahalli?
1b) If yes, kindly provide the details of action taken for compliance
1c) The number of trees that are going to be felled for this project along with their details like the tree species, age of the tree, physical condition of the tree etc.

2a) Whether clearance conditions imposed by MoEF for forest and environmental clearances including those under Forest Conservation Act (1980) have been complied with by the agency that is the widening the road from Oordigere Road 8th km stone leading to Namadachelume inside Devarayanadurga state forest?
2b) If yes, kindly provide the details of action taken for compliance.
2c) The number of trees that are going to be felled for this project along with their details like the tree species, age of the tree, physical condition of the tree etc.

3a) Does the forest department maintain records of the commercial non-passenger vehicles using / passing through the roads inside Devarayanadurga State Forest?
3b) If yes, how many commercial non-passenger vehicles have passed through Devarayanadurga State Forest in the year 2006?

04 September, 2007

'Hunt' on for the elusive Devarayanadurga tiger' (Posted Sep 2007)

Dear Readers,

The following story appeared in the Tumkur Print of The New Indian Express on August 28, 2007. The story is written by Indian Express' Tumkur based corresondent Devaraj B Hirehalli.

Regards,
Ameen

SOURCE: The New Indian Express (Tumkur print), 28 August 2007

---Quote---
'Hunt' on for the elusive Devarayanadurga tiger
By Devaraj B Hirehalli

Tumkur, Aug 27: Wildlife enthusiasts here in Tumkur have been on the 'hunt' for a tiger in Devarayanadurga Reserve Forests since 2000.

No instances of this tiger giving trouble to the people of surrounding villages or to their cattle has been reported so far.

Yet in Sept 2001, the death of a fully grown cow was suspected to be a tiger kill. But this is yet to be confirmed.

Naturally, the dry deciuous Devarayanadurga Hills reserve forest which spreads across 42.47 sq km, also has patches of scrub and a few degraded moist deciduous forests in its valleys. It is evidently a habitat for different species of animals.

In the mid-50s, wildlife activist Kenneth Anderson in his book 'Nine Man-Eaters and One Rouge' claims to have killed a man eating tiger, which he called 'The Hermit of Devarayandurga', in Devarayanadurga Hills forest quotes Ameen Ahmed, an expert from Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC) of Tumkur.

In 1996, then Deputy Conservator of Forests Dr Uday Veer Singh, too reportedly sighted a well-grown tiger in Devarayanadurga.

But since 2000, WANC activists and a few people from the villages and surrounding areas claims to have seen pug marks and heard growls of the big cat.

Forest guards Bore Gowda and Chikanna at Devarayanadurga Hills also said they had sighted the tiger resting on a rock often.

But Sanjay Gubbi, another expert in wildlife study, opines that there was no chance of the existence of a tiger in Devarayanadurga hills reserve forests given its ecology, which doesn't suit the tiger.

For a single tiger survive, it needs a density of 500 prey animals atleast and 15 sq km of dense forests for its survival. But the Devarayanadurga hills forest is a habitat for leopards which could survive on even small animals , he said. If at all the migration was to be considered, there was no forest corridor connecting
Devarayanadurga hills which is 180 km away from its nearst tiger habitat which is at Bhadra Tiger Reserve in Chickmagalur district, explained. The pug marks of a leopard during rainy season may be mistaken for tiger's, he said. But the spirit of WANC to search for their 'loving' tiger will never dampen as they have found pug marks as
recently as July 2007. But this needs research by experts.

---Unquote---

02 August, 2007

Tiger in Devarayanadurga (Updated Aug. 2007)




I. Introduction to Devarayanadurga State Forest (DDSF):
Devarayanadurga state forest was the first state forest to be declared in Karnataka (in 1907). It has been enjoying some sort of legal protection by the Government since as early as 1853.

II. Vegetation/ Flora of Devarayanadurga forests:
It is about 42.27 Sq km large and is a patch of mainly Dry Deciduous forest interspread with large patches of scrub and a few degraded moist deciduous forests in its valleys. The forest is degraded towards periphery.

For a forest which is jsut about 6 km from Tumkur city, it is remarkably well preserved and wild. Both the Forest Department and the locals of Tumkur have special attachment towards this forest.

It is important to note that there are no villages inside the forest here and there are many chunks of hilly forests adjoining Devarayana Durga state forest (DDSF) roughly about 20 sq. km, which although unprotected have a fairly good tree cover like the one at Ranthambore National Park. The animals,we know, know no boundaries.

Mr.Harish Bhat (harish@ces.iisc.ernet.in), botanist from Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc,is among the people having a good knowledge on DD's vegetation. Mr.Bhat has visited here on numerous occasions particularly in connection with a book he wrote on the medicinal plants found here, published by the Karnataka Forest Department in 2001.


III. Devarayanadurga State Forest as a habitat for the tiger's prey species:
Based on the sightings of WANCers, there has been a definite increase in the prey base here. It has a good population of wild boars and also some wild chital and Sambar. In mid-1990s only one troop of Common langurs could be seen with some luck, near the peak of Devarayanadurga hill. Evidence of Langurs can now be come across more easily. Their booming calls echo these forests at more than one place during a single visit to the forest. Also the Chitals have proliferated more. Their hoof prints can be seen very clearly through out the Namada chelume area, supporting the claims of the forest guards. The wild boars have become more bolder and their sightings have increased. School children of nature camps regularly conducted by WANC, at the Forest Information Centre here, can surely see them when they camp here.

IV. The tiger in Devarayanadurga:

1950s-1960s
Mr.Kenneth Anderson in his book `Nine Man-Eaters and One Rouge' mentions about the man-eater he killed in Devarayanadurga forests, which he named "The Hermit of Devarayandurga". This was somewhere around 1950s.

1990s
Dr.Uday Veer Singh IFS, the then DCF of Tumkur division, during one of his night patrols here, reported the sighting of a well-grown tiger. This was on 23rd August 1996. Many people did not support his sighting, as there was no documentary evidence. Villagers around DDSF had also reported the presence of tigers here for a long time.

2000
In early 2000, Guru Prasad and Sri.Harish Bhat came across the scat of a ‘big’ cat. The size of the scat suggested it to be that of a tiger, as it was too large for a leopard. Wildlife biologists from IISc verified this. In Aug. 2000, Mr.Bore Gowda, a forest guard, discovered pugmarks that were abnormally huge for any leopard, in Namada chelume. Castings of POP were taken and examined. Many experts felt it to be that of a Tiger.

2001
Mr.Bore Gowda, Mr.Chikanna and other forest guards at Namada chelume in DDSF called up WANC founder Mr.T.V.N.Murthy early on Saturday, 18th August 2001 morning on hearing the continuous roars of `Tigers' at Kumbarahalli Kere. Mr Murthy left for DDSF along with his four-year old son Kesar and another WANCer Mr.D.R.Prasanna Kumar, a post-graduate in Environmental Science. Being just about 13 km from Tumkur city, both reached the area soon.They visited the spot along with one of the forest watchers. They heard the growls of two big cats at a short distance from each other. Murthy recorded the calls on his digital Video Camera. When the party split, Murthy claims to have seen a well grown tiger for a brief period of about 5 seconds. The tiger was gone before its visual evidence could be recorded. The lower forest staff residing at Namada chelume claimed to be seeing tigers regularly after that.

In Sep 2001, the local forest staff claimed that a tiger killed a fully grown cow and sat over it for about half a night, partially consuming it. Some of the neighbouring villagers who 'saw' this scene, did not use that road through out that evening, out of fear.

2006
Mr.Ganganna, RFO of Sira Taluk, sighted 'a full grown tiger' crossing the Oordigere - Belagumba road (near 8th km stone) while returning back to Tumkur after attending a forest officers' meeting in July 2006 at Namadachelume.

2007
Fresh pug marks were found inside Panditanahalli Plantation of this forest in July 2007. The pugmarks were seen by the local forest officials and WANC has taken their castings.

WANC believeS the forest has sufficient prey to support a couple of tigers. We concede though that, no scientific study has been done here to date.

V. Where did the tigers come into Devarayanadurga?
Our guess is as good as that of any other conservationist.

The nearest population of wild tigers is towards south-east at Bannerghatta National Park (70 km bird flight). Then comes Cauvery wildlife sanctuary (apx. 100 km of bird flight). Next comes the eastern slopes of Baba budain Giri hills,a part of Western Ghats near Bhadra tiger reserve. The approximate distance here is about 120 km of bird flight. The forest corridor of Cauvery Sanctuary until recently extended up to the Ramadevara betta state forest near Kunigal town, about 30 km as a crow flies from the southern part of here. Also patches of forest are present in between. According to local nature lovers, Tigers (and `Seelu naayi` or `Kenn naayi` for wild dogs in Kannada) have been sighted as recently as late 1980s in Huliyurdurga forests (about 50 km as a bird flies from DDSF), which got its name from 'Huli' meaning tiger in Kannada.

Some conservationists believe they might have been part of touring circuses or zoos that abandoned them here as the Environment Ministry and forest officials tightened their noose around them in mid 1990s. But if this is the case then how can captivated tigers survive in the wild for over a decade now, without them having a direct conflict with humans considering the movement of villagers inside DD forests? How can they learn to hunt chital, sambar or wild boar overnight?

Now coming to the question "When there is no forested corridor that presently connect Devarayanadurga to a tiger habitat having a viable tiger population, then how did they appear here after a gap of almost 50 years?"
The answer is tricky, but we have many recent instances of wild elephants crossing highways and villages and suddenly appear tens of kilometers away from their habitat without being detected for days. If elephants can sneak into their former habitat, can't the tigers do it as well? There needs to be research undertaken to find the answer, which might turn out to be very interesting.

VI. WANC and DDSF:
DDSF is the second home of many of the members of our Wildlife Aware Nature Club. Being so close, hardly any week passes without us visiting this forest. These visits of ours have resulted in some good studies of the flora and fauna found there.

WANCer Ameen Ahmed presented a poster on the rich avifauna (about 248 Species of birds) of this forest at the Pan-Asian Ornithological Congress in Nov. 1996 at Coimbatore. Another WANCer Guru Prasad presented a paper on the raptors of this forest at the Asian Raptor Conference in Indonesia in Aug 2000. Guru along with Harish Bhat(researcher from Centre for Ecological Sciences,IISc, Bangalore) and the Karnataka Forest Department have come out with an excellent glossy Field guide (with colour plates) on the Medicinal plants of this forest- probably the first of its kind in Karnataka.

VII. Future of DDSF
 Elders visiting this forest claim that it is definitely better than what it was, when wood used to be extracted on a large scale during the pre-independence days. We as a club and the nature lovers of Tumkur city are happy that the tiger is thriving in this forest. This at a time when some of the best wildlife habitats across most of India have been destroyed for ever. Although DDSF as its own threats like the building of roads and increased tourism, it does not have threats like mining or mega projects affecting it on a large scale like Western Ghats. This fact is going to keep us happy for quite some time to come.

Further information:
There is a video of the kill remains with WANC founder TVN Murthy and also interviews of the local villagers who have seen their cows being mauled in front of them. If you are interested, you may visit him at Tumkur.

Thanks,

Ameen
For WANC

A discussion of tigers in DD is at:
http://www.indianaturewatch.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=303

27 July, 2007

150 years later, Devarayanadurga Forest chugs along...

I recently came upon some facts on Devarayanadurga forests, not known to many outside the forest department. Most of these are mentioned in Letter No. 3676, dated the 20th of November 1906, from the Conservator of Forests in Mysore. This makes an interesting read for any one who knows about this wonderful piece of woodland, considered to be the earliest reserve forest not only in Karnataka but also in India.

Devarayanadurga at present is a 42 sq km forest located on the outskirts of south India's Tumkur City. It has a population of wild langur, chital, leopards and wild boars. It is home to nearly 250 species of birds and more than 50 butterfly types. It feeds tens of streams that quench the parched throats of tens of thousands of surrounding villagers. The forest forms a major catchment area for the two streams- Jaya and Mangali. These streams have been dammed at Irrakasandra Project and Teeta Dam (the well-known Goravanahalli Temple). Downstream they join the Northern Pinakini River in Andhra Pradesh, that ultimately empties into the Bay of Bengal.

1853: The earliest protection was started in 1853, when these forests were protected under revenue department by the British.

1868: After fifteen years of partial protection in the Revenue Department, the ownership of this forest was transferred to the Forest Department and it was constituted a State Forest. It then had an area of 18 square miles (46.62 sq. km), according to Captain Vansomeran's memo appended to his annual report of 1873-74. The same remained unaltered till 1877-78.

In 1879: The forest was surveyed and mapped by the Mysore Topographical survey Department, according to which the computed area was 11 square miles and 256 acres (29.52 sq. km), but somehow this area was not taken into account, and the old estimated area, v.i.z, 18 square miles, continued to be shown in the accounts.

Between 1880 and 1882: The forest was, without formal enquiry, extended, by the addition of an estimated area of 6 square miles (15.53 sq. km), chiefly on the north, east and west.

1883: On 6th February 1883, according to notification No. 38 under Section 9 of the Revised Forest Rules of 1878 in force then in the Mysore Province, the whole Devarayanadurga forest block was re-demarcated and its boundaries were notified based on the lines demarcating the forest from the villages surround it. But the notification did not specify, the actual revised area of the block.

In 1891-92 and 1893-94: About half a square mile consisting of Vaddarahalli and Chennaveeranahalli Jodi lands was excluded, as 'they had been wrongly included in the demarcation line and the net area of the State Forest has thereafter been continued to be shown as 29 ½ square miles* in the annual returns of this office'. (*76.40 sq. km)

In 1889: The area was further extended east on the orders of Mr.Ricketts, late Inspector General of Forests, by the addition of Doddavadibetta Block, estimated to compromise about 6 square miles (15.53 sq. km), and this block was notified by the Government in 1895 ( No.3839 – Ft. 227, dated 12th October).

In 1896: Col. Walker noticed during his tour in the district 'that the forest extended from time to time without formal settlement, was encumbered with numerous rights and privileges, and accordingly ordered a careful investigation into the latter and the revision of the boundaries, if necessary'.

In 1897-98: The settlement was, accordingly, carried out by a revenue officer in concert with the District Forest Officer and was finally disposed of by the Deputy Commissioner. The then Conservator of Forests, Col. Walker, was satisfied with the settlement. The boundaries were finally rectified.

1906: With reference to para 2 of Government Order No. R. 15437-8 – Ft. 169-06-03, dated the 1st June 1906, the revised boundaries of the Devarayanadurga State Forest were forwarded for publication, both in English and '*Kanarese*' (as Kannada was probably called then) in the Gazette.

--------------------------------
1907: On 19 February this year, the final notification of the forest was published vide Govt. Order no: 7591-Fr-120-06-3. This notification included 16.88 square miles (43.72 sq. km) of area as Devarayanadurga state forest.

Other interesting years of Devarayanadurga forest:
1939-1940: Dr. Salim Ali 'celebrated' the new year here during his study of birds of the erstwhile State of Mysore. The hill myna recorded by him then is not to be found here today. The yellowthroated sparrow was 're-discovered' by a WANC team in 2007 after a gap of 69 years (read about it here).

In 1960s: Kenneth Anderson shot dead 'The Hermit of Devarayandurga' as written by him in his book Nine Man-Eaters and One Rouge.

In 1996: The then DCF, Dr. Uday Veer Singh (of the Lokayukta Karnataka Mining Report fame) reported  sighting a tiger.

2000s: A tiger was subsequently reported occasionally by local nature lovers and forest staff between 2000 and 2006. While some say it is a wild animal that has sneaked in here, a few contend it might be one from 'Touring circus' or private captivity, that was released here as the Forest Department tightened its noose on captive big game in mid-1990s.

For those wanting to know the current conservation issues of this and other wilderness areas of Tumkur and surrounding districts, please visit http://tumkurenvironment.blogspot.com/

For more information on DD, kindly visit http://devarayanadurgaforest.googlepages.com

I would appreciate correction of any mistakes. Comments/ suggestions welcome.

In conservation,
Ameen

20 July, 2007

How forest friendly is Karnataka's Wind Energy?

Posted on 10 July 2007. Updated with google maps on 5 June 2013.

A view of one of the hills carved up for wind farms and electricity transmission lines, seen from the Sri Rangapatna - Bidar State Highway No: 19 (proposed National Highway^) just north of Huliyar Town along Chitradurga - Tumkur districts' border.
For quite some time, renewable energy sources have been touted to be a viable alternative to coal energy that causes global warming and hydro energy that drowns prime forests.

To encourage renewable energy production, the Government is aggressively pushing wind energy production. But these days, wind farms are being set up by businessmen whose main concern is profit making and not nature conservation. Tens of thousands of wind turbines and electric power transmission lines have sprouted all over south India, particularly in the immediate vicinity of Western Ghats.

Among the areas where wind turbines have been erected in Karnataka are the hills and highlands of eastern parts of Chitradurga district and in western parts of Tumkur district. We saw these windmills first hand this month and I am sad to say that these windmills have had a very immediate negative impact in the forests where they have been set up.
1) Each such wind mill has a concrete base of at least 30 feet by 30 feet.
2) Each one of these has an individual road access.
3) Hundreds of trees have been removed to accommodate these giant "fans" and electric power transmission lines.
4) The transportation of giant equipment to set these wind mills (and also the electricity transmission lines)  requires movement of trucks as well as earth moving equipment, many of them heavy, which causes long term damage to the forest and soil as well as enormous disturbance to the local flora and fauna.


An approach road on one of the hills carved up for wind farms just north of Huliyar town in Tumkur district along its border with Chitradurga District. 



A not too pretty scene of the aftermath on one of the hills carved up for wind farms, electricity transmission lines and access roads just north of Huliyar town along Chitradurga - Tumkur districts' border.

Aerial view (google maps) of windmills and access roads inside Chitradurga district's largest contiguous forest, Mari Kanive state forest (230 + sq. km together with Kudure Kanive SF & Kudure Kanive SF Extension I) ~
Click here for a larger map

Aerial view (google maps) of windmills and access roads inside Tumkur district's largest contiguous forest, Bukkapatna reserve forest (132 sq. km). #
Click here for a larger map.

A google map screenshot highlighting the largest contiguous forests in Chitradurga & Tumkur districts where windmills have come up. Located to the north-west are Mari Kanive state forest and surrounding forests like Kudre Kanive (230+ sq. km. in Chitradurga district). The ones south of it are Bukkapatna state forest (136 sq. km in Tumkur district) and its surrounding forests like Manchaldore reserve forest.
Click here for larger map
This way almost every hill top of the Mari Kanive state forest and other reserve forests along Tumkur-Chitradurga border has just been devastated. The same is true to the largest contiguous forest of Tumkur District - Bukkapatna reserve forest (136 sq. km). The building of these roads and power transmission lines along with iron ore mining (much of it illegal) has also "opened up the forests for tree looters" and the situation is "just out of control in Mari Kanive forests" according to a local forest watcher . These wind mills are atop the hills that extend for hundreds of kilometres north, up to Gadag district, in north Karnataka.

Due to their destructive nature, there already have been protests against the setting up of wind farms in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, namely Baba Budan Giri range (adjoining Bhadra Tiger Reserve) and Kudremukh National Park.

As a nature lover I have opposed hydro dams as being detrimental to forests. But, by witnessing the damage done by wind farms in Karnataka's forests, I doubt if wind energy in our country is really that green.

But that brings us back to where we started. What is the alternative? Or is there really one?

Thanks,
Ameen
With Mallikarjun (Mallik) and Guru Prasad TV
WANC
Tumkur


Wind farms on almost every hill top inside the Mari Kanive State Forest in Karnataka's Chitradurga District. Electricity transmission lines cutting through the forests can also be seen.



A hill top carved up for wind farms inside the Mari Kanive State Forest in Karnataka's Chitradurga District.

Sources:

# Working Plan for Tumkur Forest Division, Approved by Govt. of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests dated: 01-02-2002, for the period 2001-02 to 2010-11.

~ Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chitradurga Division