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Forest department to clear encroachments at Sinhagad fort

The forest department authorities have warned for a crackdown on illegal structures which have come up inside and along the historic Sinhagad fort
By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
UPDATED ON MAY 21, 2021 08:00 PM IST

The forest department authorities have warned for a crackdown on illegal structures which have come up inside and along the historic Sinhagad fort. The structures erected by locals as stalls for food have been issued the third and final notice for removal failing which action will be taken.

Forest officials said surprise action will be taken against violators. As many 300 establishments comprising of hotels, zunka bhakar kiosks, curd outlets and others are going to come under the hammer of the department which seems to be in no mood to relent.

The kiosks are mostly owned by villagers from Avsarwadi, Sinhagad, Mardari, Kalyan peth, Koliwada, Atkarwadi, Golewadi (Donje), Kondanapur. The forest department claimed that Sinhagad forest was situated in reserve and protected forest area in survey no 321/323 and the notices to the encroachers have been given under reserve forest act 1927 and 1980. The first notice seeking removal of the encroachment was given on April 15, 2017, followed by second one on Oct 13, 2017, while the third and the last notice was slapped on May 5.

Bhamburda range forest officer Deepak Pawar said, “We have given them notice thrice and they will have to remove all the encroachments failing which we will remove them by our staff. We have mentioned about the violations in the notice which has been served to all.”

Meanwhile, on behalf of the vendors, Dattatreya Jorkar, former president of forest protection committee of Ghera Sinhgad-Sambrewadi village said, “The forest department will have to face the wrath of the villagers as the action amounts to snatching away their livelihood. The forest department threat is injustice to the sons of the soil and the matter must be resolved with discussion between elected representation and forest officials. We will take all the villagers into confidence and offer all necessary cooperation to the forest department. However, the drive must be cancelled taking into Covid-19 lockdown and the problems the villagers are facing due to it.”

Rahul Patil, deputy conservator of forests (Pune) said, “The road that leads to Sinhagad is with forest and no construction work involving cement, bricks and sand will be allowed. The permission from Public Works Department (PWD) and Pune Metropolitan and Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) is essential. We will take strong action and remove the encroachments soon.”

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In October 2020, the forest department issued notices to four villagers staying on Sinhagad fort and had directed them to submit a written explanation failing which they will have to vacate their residing properties on immediate basis. The families which have been asked to vacate have been residing there for the past five to six generations.

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