An official says since thousands of trees are part of the 35-m-wide strip forest, the government should have got the ministry’s nod. File photo Covered under strip foresting, 800 hectares out of bounds for owners22 Feb 2017 | 1:20 AM
CHANDIGARH: With an eye on the Assembly elections, the SAD-BJP government had gone into overdrive last year to return the land acquired for the SYL canal to the original owners.[ + read story ]
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 21
With an eye on the Assembly elections, the SAD-BJP government had gone into overdrive last year to return the land acquired for the SYL canal to the original owners. However, clearance from the Union Forest Ministry was not sought before initiating the exercise.
Of the total land transferred to the owners, about 800 hectares on both sides of the canal is covered under strip foresting by the state Forest Department. The latter was not taken into confidence before transferring it back to the farmers. Consequently, this land is out of bounds for the owners.
A senior forest official said, “Since thousands of trees are part of the 35-metre-wide strip forest, the government should have referred the case to the department to get the Union Forest Ministry’s nod for diversion of forest land.”
The additional land acquired was to be utilised for canal maintenance. The strip forest on both sides of the canal forms part of the annexure ‘G’ on the list of forests submitted by the department in the Supreme Court. As per the Forest Conservation Act and the Supreme Court’s instructions, the user agency has to apply for diversion of land through the department concerned to the Union ministry and pay requisite fee to get the forest land cleared for non-forest purposes.
A Sangrur-based environmentalist, Amandeep Aggarwal, who has dragged the state government to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over the felling of tress along the Zirakpur-Bathinda highway, said the department should have taken up the matter with the state government.
A senior official said on the condition of anonymity, “The apex court has already ordered status quo. The status of land has changed from ‘government’ to ‘private forest’ on paper. Any attempt to axe trees will invite action according to the Forest Conservation Act.”
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Kuldip Kumar was not available for comment.
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