Satellite imagery to track city land encroachment

Forest department unveils hi-tech plan of action.

pune Updated: Jul 12, 2018 15:34 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
satellite imagery,pune,maharashtra
Encroachments on forest land in Kelewadi area, Kothrud.(HT Photo)

To curb encroachment on forest land, the state forest department will use real-time satellite images of all forested areas in and around the state to trace the timeline of encroachments, said Vivek Khandekar, chief conservator of forest, Pune circle.

The assurance of action came after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Medha Kulkarni raised the issue of a telecom tower, a water tank and brick manufacturing plant being constructed on the forest land in Mohammadwadi survey no 45 and 5, during the monsoon session of the state legislature.

Sudhir Mungantiwar, minister of finance, planning and forests, claimed that the forest department is taking necessary steps to free their lands from encroachments.

Khandekar said, “Most of the land across Pune was earlier in possession of revenue department before it was used as pasture land. Then the survey numbers were changed and, at some places, the entries were found wrong and the forest land is shown as cattle crazing ground, which does not fall under the forest territory. So, it was a massive work to locate the encroachments. However, we are in the final stages of paperwork and soon will act on getting back the forest land.”

The forest official said that the satellite facility will help examine the growth of encroachments over a period of time and check future misuse of these lands. The forest department has already recovered 3,500 hectares in Solapur area and roughly around 170 hectares in Pune.

“The encroachment issue is not only seen in Mohammadwadi area, but the forest department doesn’t have a system to deal with it. Land has been encroached upon in the areas like Kelewadi and Ramnagar. The city is losing its green cover due to the increasing number of slums. The forest department must take effective measures,” said BJP MLA Medha Kulkarni

Under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, it is imperative for the land user to compensate the forest department with the current land cost as per the prevailing market rate and pay an amount per tree as decided by the government. The forest land cannot be kept by private persons. They are required to return it along with the costs levied by the government.

Pune forest in numbers

Total forest land under Pune circle - 84,840 hectares

Forest land in Pune city - 1,903.64 hectares

Encroached reserve land - Around 6,000 hectares

Protection wall built - 44 kms

First Published: Jul 11, 2018 17:24 IST