Chief Minister of Karnataka recently said he signed a Cabinet decision to release 6.5 lakh acres of land from deemed forest tag and to submit an affidavit in this regard to the Supreme Court to end years of uncertainty of lakhs of farmers
- Deemed Forests – Land Tracts that appear to be a “forest”, but have not been notified so by the government or in historical records
- No law including the Forest Conservation Act 1980 does not properly define Deemed forest.
- In the T N Godavarman Thirumalpad case 1996, the Supreme Court (SC) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act and held that the word ‘forest’ must be understood according to its dictionary meaning.
- The freedom to define which tracts of forest qualify as forest has been the prerogative of States since 1996
DEEMED FOREST IN KARNATAKA :
An expert committee constituted by the state government identified ‘deemed forests’ as:
- Land having the characteristic of forests irrespective of the ownership.
- Thickly wooded areas of the Revenue Department, not handed over to the Forest Department.
- Thickly wooded areas recommended to be handed over to the Forest Department.
- Thickly wooded land distributed to grantees but not cultivated.
- Thickly wooded plantations of the Forest Department.
Land Coverage: The expert committee reports in 1997 and 2002 identified 43.18 lakh hectares of forest land for conservation in Karnataka, which included 33.23 lakh hectares notified forest area as per forest records and 9.94 lakh hectares ‘deemed forests’.