More Than 2.5 Lakh Kanals of Forest Land Seized in Ten Jammu Divisions.image/KL
More Than 2.5 Lakh Kanals of Forest Land Seized in Ten Jammu Divisions
In a concerning revelation, official data indicates that nearly 2.5 lakh kanals of forest land in ten divisions of the Jammu region have been unlawfully encroached upon by various individuals, groups, and organizations.
According to available official figures, a staggering 2,46,450 kanals of land (equivalent to 12,466.9 hectares) are now under the occupation of encroachers across these ten forest divisions. This information surfaced in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist M M Shuja.
The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Rajouri reported that 4,510.87 hectares of forest land have been encroached upon, while the DFO of Nowshera revealed that at least 412.60 hectares are under encroachers.
Similarly, the PIO shared details about encroachments in Reasi, Mahore, and Dharmari, where approximately 1,157.40 hectares, 1,645 hectares, and 965.92 hectares of forest land respectively have been occupied.
Further statistics from the DFO in Poonch show that 474.83 hectares of land in Batote and various forest areas in Jammu, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, and Bhadarwah have also fallen victim to encroachment.
When questioned about actions taken against encroachers, the PIOs from different forest divisions explained that legal provisions under the Indian Forest Act of 1927, including FIRs and court proceedings, are being initiated. The authorities are actively working to retrieve the encroached forest land through eviction proceedings, issuing notices under Section 79-A of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
It is noteworthy that, as of 2023, 14 hectares of forest land within two wildlife sanctuaries in the Jammu region have been encroached upon. Records show that out of the total 3,150 hectares in the Ramnagar wildlife sanctuary and 3,334 hectares in the Nandini sanctuary, 6.35 hectares and 7.50 hectares respectively have been illegally occupied by various individuals, groups, and agencies.
The situation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and reclaim these vital forest lands in order to safeguard the ecological balance of the region.
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