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14 June, 2007

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

The area around Chinnagaradevara Betta is one of the most beautiful in the whole of Devarayana Durga state forest. In addition, this area is probably the least disturbed of all the areas of this reserve forest.

WANCer Ameen Ahmed who first visited this patch of forest in 1990 and WANCer Guru Prasad who has been frequenting this patch since mid-90s, fondly remember this area and often compare the vegetation to that of Bandipur and Mudumalai sanctuaries' undulating terrains.

A small foot path / track used to cut through the forest and connect the villages of Swandenahalli and Durgadahalli, a distance of 8 kilometres. Vehicles though, still have to take a circutous route for more than 15 kilometres to reach the other side of the forest. A couple of kilometres off the track between Swandenahalli and Durgadahalli lies a temple dedicated to lord Rangaswamy, popularly known as Chinnaga Rangaswamy temple. Devotees from Swandenahalli and nearby villages visit this temple within the forest boundaries and there is an annual jathra (religous gathering) of these devotees at the temple.

Since 2000 - 2001, this track has been broadened to accomodate 4- wheel vehicles. This has been widened, causing considerable disturbance to the forest.

In June 2007, WANCers Guru Prasad and Mallikarjun visited this region for bird watching and found to their shock that trees inside the forest were being felled, rocks being quarried and being carried away out of the forest. They came back and wrote a letter to the DCF Tumkur regarding the matter, along with pictures. Kindly see the pictures and the letter below to know more about this issue.

A view of felled trees and blasted rocks

Another view of the blasted rocks

A mature tree hacked
A view of the dense forest surrounding the path

A picture of forest destruction

The following are satellite images of above illegal roads inside Chinnaga area of Devarayanadurga state forest, built by Panchayat Raj Engineering Department (PRED) of Karnataka Public Works Department (PWD) in 2007.

The images have been sourced from Google Maps and stitched. Please click them to see the enlargement.

You can see the above satellite images live on google maps below:

View Larger Map

The following is the complaint letter by WANC member Mallikarjun to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Tumkur Territorial Division.

Mallikarjun M
Tumkur City
Tel: 98863 85549

Deputy Conservator of Forests
Tumkur Territorial Division
Kunigal Road
Tumkur 5721 02
Date: June 12, 2007

Dear Sir,

Sub: Tree felling, blasting of rocks and forest destruction to build road inside Devarayana Durga state forest.

I am nature lover of Tumkur and a member of the conservation group Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC).

On June 7, 2007, during one of my routine birdwatching trips along with my club mate Sri. Guru Prasad, I visited Chinigara betta near Swandenahalli inside the north-western boundary of the Devarayana Durga state forest (as per Survey of India 1:50,000 Sheet 57 G/3, First Edition).

Sir, I was shocked to see trees being felled, rocks being blasted and the overall destruction on forestland, for the construction of a road to the Rangaswamy temple located inside the state forest boundary. I and other members of our club have been visiting this stretch of Devarayana Durga state Forest for the past 17 years now and never have we seen such destruction here. This beautiful path that was covered by trees and which we deeply love, has been damaged beyond recognition.

Apart from this, we also saw a tractor lifting the stones illegally from inside the forest and transporting them towards Swandenahalli village.

To prove my above claims, I am herewith enclosing a few pictures of the same.

Sir, I kindly request you:
1) to take immediate action to stop the construction of this road and the destruction of this stretch of Devarayana Durga state forest.
2) to take strict legal action against the perpetrators of these illegal activities under the preview of the existing Forest Conservation Act (1980) and also under the most Honourable Supreme Court of India’s order dated 12/12/1996 in the Godavarman Thirumalpad vs Union of India case.
3) to have a gate with lock installed on this path, to prevent unauthorised activities like stone quarrying from taking place inside the forest.

I hope you will do the needful.

Kindly feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Thanking you.

With you in conservation,

1. Assistant Conservator of Forests, Tumkur Territorial Sub-division, Kunigal Gate, Tumkur
2. Range Forest Officer, Tumkur Territorial Range, Kunigal Gate, Tumkur


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