Politicians, bureaucrats involved in forest land grabbing: Minister

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‘Retrieved 900 kanals worth Rs 300 crore so far’

Srinagar: The Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment Bali Baghat today said that the names of “revenue officials, several politicians, police and bureaucracy” have come up in the investigation into the forest land grabbing scam in the state. 

“We have so far retrieved more than 900 kanals of forest land and timber worth Rs 300 crores,”Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment Bali Baghat said.

Asked about the reports of felling of trees in forests allegedly by armed forces in Kashmir valley, the minister said, “If evidence against anyone violating the law will be found, action will be taken irrespective of the status of background, government would bring to book the culprits if found involved,” the minister said. “If we have the reports that the armed forces and para military is involved in illegal chopping of trees in forests, we will take action. I want to assure the people of the state that the government would not spare any one, if involved.”

Baghat said that the government has set a target of retrieving 5000 hectares of forest land by March next year and that the officials of the forest department have already been directed to work in towards realizing this goals. 

He added that in Jammu, the areas of Basoli, Katra, Kashtiwar and several others are dominated by the forest land grabbing incidents. “The government has launched the helpline numbers both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir so that people can register their complaints and the government could act.”

The minister claimed that so far the illicit timber worth Rs four crore has been recovered from the possession of the smugglers and in near future the drive will gain momentum. KNS

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