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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Samiti wants Lokayukta to continue probe into irregularities in Forest Department

The Hyderabad Karnataka Yuva Horata Samiti has demanded the Lokayukta to continue probe into the alleged financial irregularities of ₹32 crore by the Forest Department in Kalaburagi district that was halted in 2016 after the then State government curtailed the powers of the ombudsman institution by constituting the ACB.

Rajashekar Kulgeri, samiti president and an RTI activist, addressing presspersons in Kalaburagi on Friday, said that funds worth ₹32 crore from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority and other heads had been released between 2002 and 2011 for the Kalaburagi forest division but were not utilised for works they were meant for, Dr. Kulgeri said in a complaint.

Based on the complaint, a committee was formed to check the complaints of misappropriation of funds as per directions of former Lokayukta Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao in July 2013. The committee members, including Mallinath S. Chella and Siddramappa Patil Gangepet in June 2014 not only submitted a report stating that the Forest Department had failed to produce any document, cheques and receipts and therefore there was misappropriation of funds to the tune of ₹32 crore, but also issued a notice to Deputy Conservator of Forest, Kalaburagi.

The committee also found that the Forest Department has failed to maintain the targeted forest and tree cover for over 33% of the total geographical area, and the district has got merely 3.1% of forest area. Dr. Kulgeri claimed that though a huge amount was spent for the development of the forest, there was no increase neither in the forest area nor in the density of the forest in the nine-year period [2002-2011].

As the Karnataka High Court abolished the ACB and restored the Karnataka Lokayukta’s original powers to investigate corruption cases, Dr. Kulgeri urged the Lokayukta Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) to continue the probe into the misutilisation of funds to the tune of ₹32 crore by the Forest Department, Kalaburagi. 

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