Forest Land Encroachment: Govt Sets Up District Panels

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Srinagar: Nearly seven months after setting-up a high-level committee to decide on complaints about the encroachment of forestland in Jammu & Kashmir, the administration of the Union Territory has now constituted the district-level committees to hear such complaints in a time-bound manner.

According to an order, the sub-committees headed by the respective deputy commissioners would address these complaints in a time-bound manner.

The committees would also comprise of Additional Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Revenue, Divisional Forest Officer, Territorial Headquarter, Divisional Forest Officer concerned and Tehsildar concerned.

The committees would provide regular hearing to the parties to address the complaints in a time-bound manner.

These panels have also been mandated to delete the illegal entries and evict encroachers from forest land under Indian Forest Act, 1927 and relevant Revenue Acts/laws.

The order further states that these committees will assist and report to the high-level panel constituted by the J&K government on the matter on 19 September, 2020.

The high-level committee was constituted last year after the High Court directed the government to set -up a panel for receiving and deciding all complaints of encroachments of forestland in a time-bound manner. The committee is headed by Principal Secretary Revenue and comprises Commissioner Secretary, Forests, Ecology and Environment, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu and Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir.

In its first meeting held on September 28, 2020, the committee recommended that sub-committees shall be constituted at the district- level to provide regular hearing to the parties, citing that the Indian Forest Act-1927 and Revenue laws empower the divisional forest officer and deputy commissioner to decide on the status of the land involved.

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