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Over one lakh kanal’s of forest land encroached in Kashmir alone
Will Governor take on powerful land grabbers?
7/9/2019 12:29:14 AM
Ishtiyaq Ahmad
Early Times Report
SRINAGAR, July 8: As Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday said that those in charge of the state's forests have accumulated wealth worth millions of rupees but there are thousands of kanals of forest land encroached over the years. It is interesting to see whether he would take on powerful land grabbers.
As per the official figures, 103705 kanals of forest land has been encroached in Kashmir alone. Most of the encroachers are said to be powerful people. Since 2014, the figures say that only 16071 kanals of forest land has been evicted from encroachers.
The eviction of forest land from encroachers seems a major challenge for the Governor-led administration.
The Governor on Monday said that those who were heading the forest department or looking after forests had accumulated wealth millions of rupees by destroying forests.
"Some have bungalows in New Delhi's Vasant Vihar and Maharani Bagh. They became millionaire and built big bungalows because of forests," he said.
Jammu and Kashmir has its forest cover stretching over 23,241 square kilometers, which is 10.46 per cent of its total geographical area of 1,01,387 square kilometers.
An official of Forest Department said they have been facing stiff opposition for clearing forest from encroachers."Thousands of kanals have been encroached over the years, " the official said.
The official said that forest land has been encroached over the years as majority of forest area is without demarcation.
"The government has failed to implement the Forest Policy properly, which could have saved our green gold from encroachers. Artificial boundaries are demarcated around forestland at several place in the state. Half of the forest land is open without any demarcation and civilian population are residing in its area at several places, posing a serious threat to its species," the official said.
Such a large chunk of forests has been encroached even Jammu Kashmir even does not figure among the top 15 green states of the country as per the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
A source said increase in forest fires also happen due to non-demarcation of forest land in the state. "Had the forests been demarcated in the state, less such incidents would have happened," the source said.
As per the official figures, more than 55, 000 kanals of forest area has been destroyed in 859 wildfire incidents in Kashmir during the last five years.
Despite rise in the number of forest fire incidents, Jammu and Kashmir has not received any funds under Intensification of Forest Management Scheme for last two years for curbing such incidents.
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