Shimla: Forest department is to get tough with encroachers as it plans to deploy special officers for evicting violators in Shimla, Rampur and Kullu even as plans for having expanding Van Thanas is to be expanded as minister JP Nadda admitted that a pilot project to contain simians in demarcated parks had failed.
At a meet the press program, Nadda disclosed that there were 8898 cases of forest encroachments, of which 4497 stood decided. Eviction notices had been passed in 2137 cases of which 872 hectares of forest land had been cleared of encroachment in 388 cases.
For speedy implementation of eviction orders, special Divisional Forest Officers (DFO’s) are being posted at Shimla, Rampur and Kullu which have the most encroachment cases, he said. Deputy commissioners (DC’s) and Superintendent Police (SP’s) at a recent meeting chaired by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal have been asked for stringent implementation of eviction orders from encroached lands, he added.
The department is opening 6 Van Thanas in the year and another 10 are proposed to be set up in the next financial year, said the minister. Setting up of forest Thanas has brought confidence in the working of the forest field staff, who are in the forefront to containing violations under the Forest Act.
The minister virtually conceded that the experiment to contain monkey menace by confining them in Simian Parks has failed. “The project tried for over a year in Tara Devi near Shimla has not been very successful,” said Nadda.
We have decentralised the permission process for shooting down marauding monkeys that are causing damage to farm lands, he said. On our part we are pushing the sterilisation program and hope to be able to sterilize about 50 thousand monkeys yearly within a period of three years.
“Other than Shimla, sterilization clinics have been set up in Hamirpur and Gopalpur and one is proposed to be set up in Una,” said Nadda.
The department is working to restore Timber Distribution (TD) rights of the people and has moved court for a early hearing in the matter, he said. On the courts direction a TD policy has been framed which is under consideration of the court, he added.
Defending the department role in containing forest fires, the minister said that from merely registering incidents of forest fires, foresters were now in the forefront to fighting forest fires. He said that about 8000 hectares of forests were damaged a unusually prolonged summer, this year and cases have been registered against some people who were caught deliberately starting forest fires.
The state has 37033 Sq Km of forest area out of which 1896 Sq Km is under reserved forest, 11,830 Sq Km under demarcated protected forest (DPF) and 21,213 Sq Km are is un-demarcated forest (UDF), while 2054 Sq Km is other forest area.
Photo by: Amit Kanwar.