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HT IMPACT: Forest guards carry out massive anti-encroachment drive in NIBM reserved forest area in Pune

The action continued for two hours after which the forest department officials took some people in custody, brought the animals tied inside the cattle shed out of the area. Some resistance was offered by occupants who summoned political leaders to intervene on the issue.

pune Updated: Nov 13, 2017 20:37 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,HT IMPACT,Forest guards
Forest department officials described the incident as an anti-encroachment raid to clear the area of unauthorised structures.(HT PHOTO)

As many as 100 forest guards, backed by platoons of State Reserve Police Force and Kondhwa Police, carried out an eviction drive against the cattle-buffalo shed near Gaibi Peer Dargah, opposite Anand Van forest park, around 9.30 am on Monday. The forest department has also booked five persons under various sections of the Indian Forest Act.

The spot is located in the immediate vicinity of Voyage to Star’s residential project at the starting point of the 200-acre dense reserved forest area. Meanwhile, civil society groups have welcomed the drive and said that the forest department must take action against builders who have been left untouched despite grave violations .

The drive continued for two hours, following which the forest department officials took some people into custody and brought the animals tied inside the cattle shed out of the area. Some resistance was offered by occupants who summoned political leaders to intervene in the issue. Media persons were prevented from entering the area and photographers were asked to not click pictures.

Forest department officials described the incident as an anti-encroachment raid to clear the area of unauthorised structures. The dargah trustees termed it to be selective action and said that the forest department should have first taken action against big builders who were gradually entering the forest area and had done maximum damage to the forest.

Both, deputy conservator of forests, RM Naikade, and chief conservator of forests were unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts.

The forest department had issued notices to the unauthorised occupants on November 1 stating that Survey No 45 had been declared as a reserved forest area through a notification 24 F, dated March 1, 1871. The said geographical area is legally defined as a reserved forest area.

The notice went on to add that the unauthorised occupants have been booked under Forest Act and a case had been lodged against them on May 28,2015 citing that they had violated the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

“The violators are hereby informed through the notice that they vacate the premises within two days of the receipt of this notice, failing which, the forest department will take unilateral action against the violators,” the notice stated.

The 200-acre reserved forest area is regarded as the richest biodiversity zone and home to the rarest species of birds and animals along with multiple varieties of trees. Residents of the area and environmental groups have demanded the forest department to take strict action against the powerful builders who had destroyed the reserved forest.

The environment action groups have petitioned the Prime Minister’s Office and Union Ministry for Forests complaining that the forest department was not taking adequate steps to fence the forest area and undertook only small anti-encroachment drives to show them for record before their superiors. The forest lovers have demanded genuine and strict action against the builders engaged in the destruction of forest land and appealed to the government to book them under the most stringent sections of the forest laws.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 17:48 IST