Depts lock horns over forest area

CHANDIGARH: The proposed inclusion of large tracts of uncultivable hills and seasonal rivulets identified as forest area, near Chandigarh, in the municipal limits of the Nayagaon civic body has raised the hackles of the state Forest Department.

editorial@tribune.com

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2

The proposed inclusion of large tracts of uncultivable hills and seasonal rivulets identified as forest area, near Chandigarh, in the municipal limits of the Nayagaon civic body has raised the hackles of the state Forest Department.

Objecting to the move by the Local Bodies Department, the Forest Department has stressed that it would result in “unforeseen deforestation” in the ecologically sensitive Shivalik Hills.

In its communication to the Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, the department has quoted recent orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, wherein it has been mentioned that many influential persons, who have grabbed the prime panchayat land, were pushing for inclusion of such areas in the municipal limits.

Further, quoting scientific studies conducted by the Soil and Land Use Survey of India and Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, both affiliated with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, a Forest Department official said 1565.71 acres in Nada village and 2607.52 acres in Karoran village had been notified under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, on February 2, 2018.

The notification prohibits clearing, breaking and cultivation of land, challenging the very purpose by the Local Bodies Department of bringing the forest areas under its limits.

Attention of the Local Bodies Department has been drawn towards the practice of influential persons grabbing panchayat land by misappropriation and dividing it into shares in area around Chandigarh, including Nada, Seonk, Perch and Karoran.

“Since the gram panchayat of Karoran has filed a petition under Section 11 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, to decide the title of land grabbed by 8,326 persons and the case is pending with the Deputy Director Land Development, Mohali, the inclusion of the land in the civic limits is questionable,” reads the communication.

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