Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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Govt returned SYL land sans Forest Ministry nodAn 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

Govt returned SYL land sans Forest Ministry nod

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.

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Rajmeet Singh

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.


Deploy forces to defuse tension: Capt 

Chandigarh: Reacting to INLD’s announcement to dig the SYL canal, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday demanded the deployment of armed forces to prevent any untoward incident. Pointing out that he himself had been repeatedly warning that the SYL issue had the potential to trigger violence, he said intelligence reports endorsing his apprehensions necessitated a crackdown on INLD leaders before the situation went out of hand. He demanded preventive arrest of INLD leader Abhay Chautala and cancellation of party supremo Om Prakash Chautala’s parole to control the situation. tns

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