Sunday, February 17, 2008

Land grabbed by school recovered

Land grabbed by school recovered
DH News Service,Bangalore:
The Forest Department on Saturday reclaimed around five acres of land which was part of the reserve forest from a premier private school, off Kanakapura Road on the outskirts of the City.

The approximate value of the land cleared of encroachment is around Rs 7.5 crore.Department officials also seized around 500 kg of sandalwood comprising logs and artifacts from the school premises.

In an operation which began at around 8:30 am, a team of around 35 forest officials demolished 10 buildings of the Valley School run by the Krishnamurthy Foundation of India, which were “illegally” built on Survey number 85 of B M Kaval Reserve Forest.

The area was declared as a reserve forest in 1935 by the then state of Mysore.

The team led by Deputy Conservator of Forest, Urban division, O Palaiah and Assistant Conservator of Forests B Jayaram cleared the forest encroachment by the school in the presence of police officials.

“The buildings included the administrative and kitchen blocks, three paragolas and five other rooms, used as kilns and store rooms. Some of them had GI sheets for roofing, others tile and hatched roofs. We also seized some sandalwood artifacts from the centre and sandalwood logs which were dumped elsewhere inside the school premises,” said Mr Palaiah.

The forest officer alleged that environmentalist Leo Saldanha rushed to the spot and “obstructed” their operations. “He said his wife Lakshmi is a teacher in the school and they bring the sandalwood to teach children wood carving. He didn’t allow us to start the demolition. We have filed an FIR against him under Section 353 of the IPC, for obstructing government officials from carrying their duty and Sections 86 and 87 of the Forest Act, for illegal possession and cutting of sandalwood.

“These are non-bailable offences and if convicted, the accused can be imprisoned for five years and fined with Rs 25,000,” said Mr Jayaram.

An FIR has also been lodged against School Director Satish Inamdar and Principal Jairam, who according to the forest officer, are “absconding”. When contacted a relative of Dr Inamdar said he is not available.

The Forest Department knew that the school had encroached upon the forest for a long time and had issued enough warnings and time to the school authorities to vacate the land. “But they didn’t comply. We had no option but to demolish the buildings and reclaim the encroached land,” said Mr Palaiah.

The proceedings started last year when the RFO, Kaggalipura booked a case against the Valley School for encroaching the forest land and submitted an FIR to the jurisdictional court and DCF, Urban division. “He instructed the RFO to enquire and submit the report to him. Later, the ACF, South subdivision conducted 64 (A) proceedings under the Forest Act, giving an opportunity to the encroachers to explain with relevant documents. The school authorities failed to produce proper records.”

“On April 7, the ACF passed an order asking the school to reply within 20 days of the issuance of the order. Till Friday they had not responded,” said Mr Jayaram

In December, the Valley School authorities had complained to the Forest Department that a leopard had strayed into the premises.

“We went there and found that part of the school is built on the elephant corridor and is close to the Bannerghatta National Park.” I warned chief administrative officer Amit to vacate the land otherwise we will take action as per law,” said the officer.

Two months ago, the Forest Department had recovered around 65 acres of forest land encroached by the BDA in Survey numbers 5, 82 and 86 of the Turahalli forest area. “The total worth of the property is around Rs 100 crore,” said Mr Palaiah.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of Karnataka, A K Varma said the department remains committed to clearing any encroachment of the forest land. “Forest land is national property. It cannot be encroached upon,” he said.


At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 10:06:00 AM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask not what your environment can do for you, but what you can do for your environment. Take a walk around Bangalore city, or drive, or better yet fly and see how little green is left in and around this garden city…. or even how little green is left in this State.

An aerial view of the Valley School will show you a vast area of green surrounded by brown land (take a look at google earth). This is the area of the Valley School which was once as brown as the corridors around it in 1974. This is an area that the school has protected and allowed the forest to re-grow and given it back to the panther and the elephant. Ask my 8 year old daughter…. She takes pride in telling the world at large that her school is a “jungle”. I corrected her the other day and said, “Your school is IN a jungle”. Today I stand corrected, and like her, I believe that her school is a jungle. And why? Because everything about the school is geared towards protecting the environment… from the way they teach the children, to water conservation, to the materials they use in constructing their buildings – this is one of the most eco-friendly schools we have in Bangalore.

Last weekend, on the 8th of February, we went to the junior school cultural program. Set under the big banyan tree near the art village, the children had written every line of the script in the form of poetry and song and the whole story was woven around their walk from the main campus to the art village through the forest…. Encounters with the monkey’s (who seriously felt that the two legged humans were basically loud and irritating animals with no finesse), to elephants tracking them through the forest – they included the bees and the flowers, and the lovely rare Bird of Paradise, which they now see in abundance around the campus. It touched every heart in the audience. We all felt, sitting there in the morning cool, under the big banyan tree, that we were a part of nature – we heard the birds and the crickets and we stopped to listen.

The whole art program this year has focused on mapping the environment and finding patterns in nature around them…. from flowers to footprints, from animal droppings to the different shades of green.

The first year program in school is not aimed at merely reading and writing and mathematics. Every day would begin with these young children walking around the environment, finding out about the fields around, the villagers, the water sheds, why there was water in the streams in one season and not the other, the trees of the Valley, the flowers of the Valley, everything about nature. Some parents felt nervous about the fact that the kids were learning nothing new this year, or that they once knew how to spell “twelve” and they could no longer remember. Today, I stand by everything they inculcated in my child – for if they raise her to be aware of her environment, perhaps tomorrow – she might grow up to be like Mr. Leo Saldhana, who will stand up for a school which believes in protecting it’s environment.

Drive a further 8 km (past the turn off for Valley School) down the Kanakapura road just off the Kaganahalli Village, after a shrinking lake, and you will see what real depletion of our environment looks like. Between the sand filtering and the rock mining (all illegal), the landscape is being torn apart by quarrying. There’s nothing left of the soil and the plants, but cheap clay like soil stripped of it’s nutrients, and chips of granite, dynamited everyday. The locals there will tell how many people get hurt by flying rocks every year. And the wild life? There’s not even a plant that can survive that onslaught. Hand a place like that to the Krishnamurthi foundation, and you’ll find a jungle there in the next 20 years.

Institutions like the Valley School and the KFI support entire ecosystems such as the Kaigal Education project, which has focused attention on rebuilding the seed bank of the natural plant species in the area, and on helping the indigenous people to live within their environment - instead of joining the vast exodus into the city, which is bent on cutting down every green tree standing in the way of the exploding car population

Schools belonging to the Krishnamurthi Foundation should be lauded in their efforts to make a change. Climb a rock and look down at the Rishi Valley School in Madanapalli. Even my six year old pointed out the difference between the valley and its surroundings. The valley there is lush with green, cool and beautiful, compared to the stark, barren, overgrazed and depleted landscape around.

As a Ph.D in the field of Ecology from Cornell University, I believe I understand something about conservation, enough to say that the Valley School is sincere in its every attempt to conserve the forest and the animals therein.

The might of the State Forest Department could so effectively complement the intiatives of groups like the Krishnamurti Foundation, and they could work closely together with such institutions and the children they raise to achieve common goals - be it in helping to preserve the future of these forests, the elephant corridors, or the shrinking tiger populations therein.

Dr. Shonali Chinniah

At Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM GMT+5:30, Blogger Dhiraj Kumar said...

I am deeply impressed by the writings of Dr. Shonali Chinniah. I guess she has also written a poem on "Girl Child". Being part of a campaign agains female foeticide. I would seek the help of any one who could provide the contact details of the author so that I could seek her permission to use her poem in a calligraphy piece and use it for display.

At Friday, October 17, 2008 at 12:50:00 AM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks a lot Dr Shonali Chinniah

At Friday, July 3, 2009 at 5:20:00 PM GMT+5:30, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Diraj,

Send your contact details to and I'll get in touch with you. I'm amazed you found that poem.... and glad you liked it. My mother does a lot of work with adoption and child welfare... hence the poem.

Dr. Chinniah


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