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Influential grabber prized forest land, 227 structures constructed illegally
2/24/2020 11:44:50 PM


PAHALGAM, Feb 24: While the innocent Kashmiris were facing the brunt of militancy during nineties, influential and rich in nexus with officials of Revenue and Forest Departments managed to grab hundreds of kanals of forest land at this world famous tourist destination and constructed huts, hotels and guest houses on forest and state land.
Sources in the forest department reveal that “big babus” and political cohorts’ grabbed forest and wildlife land with the active support of revenue officials during past years but the successive governments instead of initiating action against them encouraged the forest land encroachment by siding with the looters and land encroachers.
They said that hundreds of kanals of forest land has been illegally encroached at Pahalagm and due to inaction of the department land grabbers have managed to raise constructions on the same land. “Revenue officials are tempering with the records and helping land grabbers,” they added.
“Revenue officials from time to time have tampered with the records. Settlement records show 43 Kanals and 19 Maralas under Khasra number 169 but now after making fraud entries officials have issued documents to more than 75 kanals under the same Khasra number,” a local resident, privy of the developments told Early Times.
A group of bureaucrats have also encroached upon forest land in Ganeshbal area and raised constructions over it. Late Deputy Chief Minister’s son is also among the encroachers. Even the Forest department has reportedly issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) in favor of a businessman who runs cement business in Kashmir and allowed him fence a large chunk of forest land at Ganeshbal Pahalgam after the businessman stroked a monetary deal with top officials of the department. The businessman had plans to construct a hotel on the land but the continuous of coverage of ET spoiled his plans and the area was marked as green belt. An official in the forest department at Anantnag revealed that in 2006-Master Plan, the C-16 Zone of Mammal Wildlife sanctuary was put under permissible zone. “Irony is that these highly influential people not only grabbed forest and wildlife land at Pahlagam but also chopped off tress and used same timber to construct illegal structures,” he said.
He reveled that land has been also encroached in D-1, D-2, D-3 and D-4 zones of Khilan up to the Langni Bridge. Official said that an influential former town planner and his brother also grabbed land at Gogran Batkoot and raised illegal structures.
Land has also been grabbed in Mamam Shikargah of Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, Meeran Pattar and Aathnadan areas of Pahalgam.
In the Aru Wildlife zone locals allege that hundreds of Kanal of land have been encroached upon by many influential people with the tacit support of Wildlife officials, revenue and PDA officials posted in the area. “At Aru you will see many big patches of land in the Wildlife zone having been encroached upon by many influential people and the Wildlife officials never mustered courage to remove theses encroachments,” said locals.
Forest officials admit that the influential people under the grab of 60-C gazette have grabbed the land and raised over 227 structures illegally over it.
Important to mention here, in Kashmir valley thousands of kanals of forest land has been encroached.
According to details available with Early Times, over 27094 kanal of forest land is under encroachment in Anantnag district, over 2939 kanal in Bandipora, over 11221 kanal in Baramulla, 7636 kanal in Budgam district, over 897 kanal in Kupwara, over 6589 kanals in Kulgam, over 8179 kanal in Ganderbal and over 12339 kanal in Shopian district, however the department hasn’t done enough to check the menace of land grabbing.
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