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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.
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

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  1. This is a real issue, is there any petition that we can sign or anything that may delay the project?

  2. Hi Trooper, thank you for the concern. We are chalking out an action plan and will be inviting people to part in the same soon.

  3. Ameen...let me know how I can assist. We cannot let these forests to be destroyed.

  4. Hello Laxmeesha,

    We are glad to recieve your support.

    We are chalking out an action plan and will be inviting people to part in the same, within the next couple of weeks.



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