Forest dept to get back land spread over 2,944 hectare

The forest department may get back 2,944 hectares of reserved forest land in Wadgaon Shinde, Daund and Paud areas of Pune district from the revenue department in a month, a senior forest official told TOI.

The land is a portion of the 35,182 hectares reserved land which the forest department gave the revenue authorities over a hundred years ago, between 1902 and 1907, for management till 2006. After the lease period was over, the forest authorities moved to reclaim this land for afforestation in view of the depleting forest cover in the state and in the city.

“The state has set its affo restation target at 33% by 2019 under the social forestry programme. At present, it has achieved only 20% forest cover. In case of Pune, it is just 16% of the total land. Statistics indicate that 61.35 lakh hectares of the total 307 lakh hectares in the state have forest cover. Around 400 crore trees will have to be planted to meet the 2019 target,“ the official said. Over the last 10 years, the forest department did recover 20,890 hectares of the total 35,182 hectare land from the revenue authorities, but the process to recover the remaining 14,292 hectares proved to be tedious because the revenue department claimed that it had distributed 11,349 hectares among private parties before 1980 when the Forest Conservation Act came into force.This Act prevents transfer of forest land for any other purpose.

Aforest official said, “Even this 11,349 hectares claimed to have been distributed before 1980 will have to be cleared by the Union ministry for environment and forests before private holders can get their names into the 712 revenue extracts as owners in place of the forest department’s.“

There are hurdles related to tracing ownership papers with the revenue department and dealing with large-scale encroachment.

Revenue officials said they have cleared all cases regarding reserved forest land and were ready to hand over this land soon.

IN A NUTSHELL

The forest department did recover 20,890 hectares of the total 35,182 hectare land from the revenue authorities, but the process to recover the remaining 14,292 hectares proved to be tedious because the revenue department claimed that it had distributed 11,349 hectares among private parties before 1980 when the Forest Conservation Act came into force

Source : TOI

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