Thousands of kanals of forest land under encroachment

Srinagar—Despite encroachments on for­est land, government has failed to make proper de­marcation of the forest land in the state.

The recorded forest area is 20230 sq. kms, which consti­tutes 19.95 % of geographical area of the state. Recently, the government said that depart­ment has retrieved 148339.40 kanal against 290126.82 kanal encroached forest land in Jammu division.

“Similarly the department retrieved 8553.60 kanal of 113852.78 kanal encroached forest land in Kashmir divi­sion,” Forest Minister Chow­dhary Lal Singh has said.

At the same time, govern­ment has failed to demarcate the forest land in the state.

An official of the Forest Department on condition of anonymity told KNS that artificial boundaries are de­marcated around forest land at several place in the state. “Half of the forest land is open without any demarcation,” the official said.

The official said that thousands of kanals of for­est land are still under encroachment and govern­ment has failed to retrieve that from encroachers.

He said that the increase in forest fires 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 official told KNS.

In 2011, government made the proposal for de­marcation of forest land in­cluding Dachigam National Park. Seven years down the line, the project has not been executed in the state. but the project has not been implemented.

The government had also made a proposal for the demarcation of the Dachi­gam National Park, which spreads over141 sq km. How­ever, so far the authorities have not identified its area, which extends in North to Dara Block, Sind Forest Di­vision, Overa Aru wildlife Sanctuary and in South to Ridges of Cheshmashahi forests, Khanmoh Khrew forests, Hajin and Narastan and Zowirstan forests. Its boundaries in east extend to lake Marsar and in the West Harwan water reservoir and Zabarwan Forests.

“It only appears on pa­pers that Dachigam spreads over 141 sq km but the au­thorities have failed to iden­tify the area. Even a pro­posal was framed years ago for its proper demarcation, which has been shelved for unknown reasons,” an offi­cial of the Wild Life Depart­ment, said.

He said the artificial de­marcation of its boundaries was done at few places and the civilian population was also residing in its area at several places, posing a seri­ous threat to its species.

Officials said with ab­sence of boundaries and fencing, local live stock of the surrounding areas of the Dachigam Wildlife Park goes on a grazing spree in its upper reaches resulting in heavy habitat degradation.

A senior official said gov­ernment has taken up sev­eral preservation measures for forest land. “Vulnerable areas in forests are being de­marcated on priority basis,” he said. “It will take several hundred crores for demarca­tion of entire forest land,” he said.


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