With the Lok Sabha elections just a year away, the massive demolition drive started by the Forest Department (FD) to remove illegal encroachments from forested areas in Dahisar (East) will slacken in pace. Political parties seem to have come together to ensure that the drive of the Forest Department against illegal structures on forestland is delayed further.
In a meeting that took place between FD officials and leaders of political parties from Dahisar at Mantralaya on Monday, it was decided that the collector will begin the demarcation of the area to differentiate between forest and non-forest lands. However, no time period has been stipulated for the demarcation.Residents of Dhar Kadi Ravalpada, Dahisar (East), have been alleging that the FD’s drive did not conduct a proper survey.
On Monday, over 2,000 people from Dahisar (East) protested in front of the national park gate, demanding that the scheduled demolition drive be postponed. They submitted a letter of demands to the national park authorities. Speaking to MiD DAY, ex-BMC corporator from the area, Rajendraprasad Chaubey, said, “The claims made by the forest department that people have encroached forest land are false.
People have been staying in the pada even before the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) was declared a national park. I think that a proper survey should be conducted demarcating the forest and non-forest area and those staying here for a long time should be given alternate accommodation before demolition.”
SGNP director and chief conservator of forests (CCF) Sunil Limaye said, “In a meeting that took place between FD and the representatives of political parties on Monday afternoon at Mantralaya , it was decided that we (FD) will be writing a letter to the suburban district collectors after which they will do the demarcation or survey of the forest and non-forest area. Once the survey is done, things will become more clear and there won’t be any delay in taking action against illegal encroachments.”
In the meeting, the Forest Department made it clear that those who have rented their illegal structures will have to vacate them. The Forest Department had planned to take action against illegal structures on forestland in Dahisar area from May 2. In the letter of demands submitted to Sanjay Gandhi National Park authorities on Monday, local residents of Dahisar (East) have also requested that there be de-notification of forestland on which the structures have been built. They also want their illegal houses to be regularised since they’ve been staying there before the Borivli park became a national park.