Survey for elephant corridor begins
Almost a decade after it was first mooted, a survey of over 1,000 acres near the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) — meant to be developed into an elephant corridor — has begun. This is following a direction to the Anekal taluk authorities by Bengaluru Urban DC J. Manjunath.
Mr. Manjunath told The Hindu that the Forest Department was seeking this land [survey 69 in Shivanahalli spread over 1,129 acres of gomala land] to enhance the width of the elephant corridor. “Recently, when I visited the area, we heard what the villagers and environmentalists had to say. Some people complained that resorts have encroached land,” he said.
The land, which adjoins the Bannerghatta National Park, has several habitations. “Some have been granted land in the 1970s for cultivation. There are applicants to the government [by owners] to grant them land for livelihood. A survey is needed to assess the extent of land, lands granted, how genuine the claims are, etc.,” Mr. Manjunath added.
By providing a secure area for the Asiatic elephant, the corridor will be instrumental in reducing man-animal conflict. “But it needs to be secured without affecting livelihoods,” the DC added.
Though the final decision rests at the government level, the survey will offer a sketch of the terrain, habitations, and if they need to be relocated or left undisturbed, he said. “It is a huge area, so it will take time. It needs aerial and ground surveys. The first report should be ready in a fortnight or so for the aerial survey,” he said.
Dinesh P., tahsildar, Anekal taluk, said the corridor will extend all the way to Nagarahole. “The survey is under progress. After ascertaining any encroachment, lands granted and habitat checks, we will see what can be done. If everything goes well, it will be handed over to the forest department after the survey,” he said.
According to B.N.N. Murthy, Conservator of Forest (DCF), Bannerghatta National Park, the joint survey by the revenue and forest departments is crucial for the corridor for BNP. “The land in question is on par with the notified land in BNP. It will help in the expansion of the existing corridor, so animals will get more space to move around. It will also help farmers by resolving problems like crop raiding,” he said.
The Bannerghatta Nature Conservation Trust is keeping its fingers crossed. “The land in question belongs to the elephant corridor. It is revenue land, and according to a lok adalat verdict, it was handed over to the Forest Department in 2011. then DC M.K. Aiyappa wrote to the DFO, Revenue Department, and tahsildar, quoting the lok adalat verdict stating that it is part of the crucial elephant corridor land. But no action was taken. Miscreants who did not belong to the village came with fudged papers with land granted, but there has been no cultivation whatsoever,” said members of the Trust. They also cited pressure from the quarry mafia. “Since quarrying is closed and a prohibited activity, the quarry mafia is trying to pressurise and move out the trust,” members of the Trust alleged, adding that one of the encroachers even cleared the habitat, despite court orders to maintain status quo.
Environmentalist Vijay Nishanth urged the administration to finish the survey as possible as it will help solve human-animal conflict too. “Overall, it’s a win-win situation for humans and animals.”