Govt issues notice to Taj over Shopian forest land

SRINAGAR: While issuing a notice to former minister and senior congress leader Taj Mohi-ud-Din, the government on Saturday vowed not to allow anyone irrespective of “caste, creed, region, religion or any other basis” to encroach even a single inch of forest land in the state.
The notice to Taj has been served by the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Shopian vide a letter (No. DFO/SPR/817-20/L) on July 23 and it calls upon him to allow demarcation of land under his possession in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
The notice has been served following a communication from Vigilance organization’s enquiry officer, a DySP of Anantnag- Baramulla-Pulwama range, who has sought outcome of demarcation conducted by the Forest Department as the matter was pending since long for its conclusion on the merits.
“Apparently the patch of land under your (Taj Mohi-ud-Din’s) occupation seems to be forest land within the territorial limits of compartment V-4c,” reads the notice, requesting him to direct his watch and ward staff to cooperate with the demarcation party. He has also been asked to produce documents, if any, in support of his claim over the land so that demarcation was carried out to ascertain actual status of the land.
On Saturday, Minister for Forests and Social Welfare, Bali Bhagat said that everyone was equal before law and serving of notice by the Forest Department to the former minister was a testimony to this fact that action against encroachers would continue.
He said this step has sent a strong message that the anti-encroachment drive of the forest department will continue with more intensity in future and no one will be allowed to encroach even a single inch of forest land in the state.
Bhagat said that the Forest Department’s action of retrieving forest land from land grabbers or encroachers was being appreciated by the people.
He said 3200 kanals of forest land have already been retrieved from the encroachers since the formation of BJP-PDP coalition government in the State.