Pune: 255 hectares of encroached forest land recovered
The Pune forest department recovered land being used for varied purposes, including farming, across five divisions of the district
Encroachment of forest land for cultivation and other activities has endangered India's forest resources for years, and the story is no different in Pune. Officials of the district forest department have recovered around 255 hectares of land in the last one year, amounting to property worth Rs 200 crore.
Encroached forest land across the district is not only being used for farming but also to build houses, resorts, water tanks, animal shelters, and poultry sheds. This has been the case for close to two decades. This is despite the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 stating that seeking prior approval of the Forest Ministry before regularising any encroached land was mandatory.
FD begins plantation
The forest department has appointed private companies to conduct surveys of encroached land, and a massive drive is now being conducted at Indapur, Baramati, Daund, Lonavla, and Wadgaon Maval divisions of Pune district.
"We visited encroached lands after the survey and held meetings with villagers. Farmers cultivating seasonal crops were allowed to continue up to harvest season when we would take over the land," said Deputy Conservator of Forest Shreelaxmi A.
"We give ample amount of time and scope for issues to be resolved peacefully. My team faces a number of issues in encroachment cases at times. But in a year, we have managed to recover 255 hectares of forest land and have begun plantation too," she added.
The district collector's office had in the past issued forest land to private organisations for their units, but "we have approached the court and finally recovered our land," said assistant conservator of forests Madhukar Telangana.
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