28,600 acres of forest land in Punjab under illegal possession: Minister

The forest and wildlife minister claimed that the Congress government initiated a drive against the illegal possession and took control of, for instance, “400 acres worth Rs 700 crore in Ludhiana district”.

punjab Updated: Apr 07, 2018 22:19 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Punjab news,Sadhu Singh Dharamsot,Forest land
Minister of forest and wildlife Sadhu Singh Dharamsot (HT File)

Punjab’s forest and wildlife minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot on Saturday acknowledged the extent of the problem of encroachment over forest land, saying that 28,600 acres remain under illegal possession of “politically influential persons” in the state. This is nearly 5% of the state’s total forest land, 6.37 lakh acres.

Speaking to the media here, Dharamsot said his department has retaken possession of 2,400 acres out of the 31,000 acres that was encroached upon till a year ago when the Congress took power after 10 years of SAD-BJP rule. He claimed that the Congress government initiated a drive against the illegal possession and took control of, for instance, “400 acres worth Rs 700 crore in Ludhiana district”.

“We have fought against the influential people who acquired this land during the SAD-BJP regime. We will also seize the remaining land soon,” he said.

“In the next phase, we will take possession of land in Amritsar, Ferozepur and Mohali districts,” principal chief conservator of forests Jatinder Sharma told HT.

Dharamsot also said that the government will plant 2 crore trees to enhance forest area in Punjab. “Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has decided that the government will distribute trees to farmers and education institutes for plantation inside or outside their farms or buildings,” he added. As per the India State of Forest Report 2017, Punjab’s 5.13% area has forest.

The minister was in the city for the death anniversary of former MP Sant Ram Singla, father of local Congress MLA Vijay Inder Singla. Dhuri Congress MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy, his counterpart from Faridkot Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, Barnala MLA Meet Hayer of AAP, and Dirba MLA Harpal Singh Cheema, also of AAP, were also president at the death anniversary function.

First Published: Apr 07, 2018 22:18 IST