SHOPIAN: Twenty Kanals of Chotipora-Sedow forests have been occupied by the villagers in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
Sources from the forest protection department said that the locals have put barbed wires on encroached land and have done tillage on it.
They also said that people have already encroached forest land in the area and have raised houses and apple orchards on it.
Villagers from Sedow said that encroached land is just some 150 meters away from the forest check post and added that if present encroachment goes unchecked, it will further encourage the elements to grab the forest land.
“We are witnessing the worst climatic conditions, forests are the lone source of water and survival of life is directly dependent on the forests. Everyone should be concerned about the depletion of forest cover,” said Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, an undergraduate student of the area.
Officials from forest department said that the issue was brought in their notice on 22 March by a person who had occupied land and claimed possession of ownership documents of it.
Divisional Forest Officer, Shopian/Pulwama, Manzoor Ahmad Shah said that they have taken back the encroached forest land.
“We have lodged a case in Hirpora police station under FIR number 13/2018 in this regard,” he said adding that forest protection department has seized barbed wires, sealed fence post.
“About 85 hectares of forest land in Sedow-Chotipora area has been encroached by locals. We will start anti-encroachment drive but due lack of funds for fencing, locals repeatedly occupy it,” Shah added.