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Two arrested for torching forest

Shivamogga: Forest Department officials arrested two persons in Haridravathi State forest limits in Hosanagar taluk recently on the charge of torching the forest with the intention of land grabbing.

The accused are Kolluraiah, a resident of Hiremaiti village, and Tirthesha, a resident of Tammadikoppa village. They were nabbed while trying to flee after torching the natural vegetation in the forest adjacent to Hiremaiti village in the reserve forest limits.

Tirthesha owns a three-acre agricultural plot on the forest fringe near the village, on which he is growing ginger. According to forest officials, his plan was to encroach on the forest area adjacent to his agricultural land by clearing the natural vegetation. He had assigned this work to Kolluraiah.

When Kolluraiah torched the natural vegetation on April 7, the flame spread at a rapid pace. Realising that the situation was getting out of hand, the two men tried to flee. On seeing the fire, residents of Hiremaiti and Nanjavalli rushed to the spot and nabbed them, before eventually handing them over to forest officials.

More than 20 acres of forest was ravaged in the incident. Personnel of the Forest Department and the Fire and Emergency Services Department doused the fire on April 8, after battling for more than 24 hours.

Mohan Gangolli, Deputy Conservator of Forests, told reporters that cases have been booked against the duo under various sections of the Karnataka Forest Act, Tree Protection Act, 2005, and the Prevention of Public Property Damage Act, 1984.

Previous incident

On February 28, more than 150 acres of forest land, including a 10-acre eucalyptus plantation raised by the department, was devastated in the fire that broke out in Haridravathi and Haratalu State forests. Suspecting the role of locals with the aim of grabbing land, the Forest Department had filed cases against unidentified persons under the Karnataka Forest Act.

In the wake of these incidents, patrolling has been intensified in Haridravathi, Haratalu and Ambligolla State forests, he added.

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