Srinagar, Feb 28: Despite encroachments on forest land, government has failed to make proper demarcation of the forest land in the state.
The recorded forest area is 20230 sq. kms, which constitutes 19.95 % of geographical area of the state. Recently, the government said that department has retrieved 148339.40 kanal against 290126.82 kanal encroached forest land in Jammu division.
“Similarly the department retrieved 8553.60 kanal of 113852.78 kanal encroached forest land in Kashmir division,” Forest Minister Chowdhary Lal Singh has said.
At the same time, government has failed to demarcate the forest land in the state.
An official of the Forest Department on condition of anonymity said that artificial boundaries are demarcated around forest land at several place in the state. “Half of the forest land is open without any demarcation,” the official said.
The official said that thousands of kanals of forest land are still under encroachment and government has failed to retrieve that from encroachers.
He said that the increase in forest fires happen due to non-demarcation of forest land in the state. “Had the forests been demarcated in the state, less such incidents would have happened,” the official said.
In 2011, government made the proposal for demarcation of forest land including Dachigam National Park. Seven years down the line, the project has not been executed in the state.
The government had also made a proposal for the demarcation of the Dachigam National Park, which spreads over141 sq km. However, so far the authorities have not identified its area, which extends in North to Dara Block, Sind Forest Division, Overa Aru wildlife Sanctuary and in South to Ridges of Cheshmashahi forests, Khanmoh Khrew forests, Hajin and Narastan and Zowirstan forests. Its boundaries in east extend to lake Marsar and in the West Harwan water reservoir and Zabarwan Forests.
“It only appears on papers that Dachigam spreads over 141 sq km but the authorities have failed to identify the area. Even a proposal was framed years ago for its proper demarcation, which has been shelved for unknown reasons,” an official of the Wild Life Department, said.
He said the artificial demarcation of its boundaries was done at few places and the civilian population was also residing in its area at several places, posing a serious threat to its species.
Officials said with absence of boundaries and fencing, local live stock of the surrounding areas of the Dachigam Wildlife Park goes on a grazing spree in its upper reaches resulting in heavy habitat degradation.
A senior official said government has taken up several preservation measures for forest land. “Vulnerable areas in forests are being demarcated on priority basis,” he said. “It will take several hundred crores for demarcation of entire forest land,” he said. (KNS)