SHOPIAN: After Kashmir Reader reportage, Shopian forest division come into action, cleared 300 kanals of encroached forest land in a single day at Chotipora-Sedow forests.
Around 85 hectares of forest land in Chotipora-Sedow belt has been occupied by locals since past two decades. Locals from the area said that the pace of encroachment was so high that without official intervention the forests would have vanished.
Saeed Muhammad, a local resident told Kashmir Reader that once the encroachment goes unchecked then it pays a way for the others to occupy the more areas of forests.
Kashmir Reader come to know that people at several places had ploughed the forest land and sowed maze on it and at other places people (encroachers) have raised orchards and houses on it. At couple of places people have axed and set afire trees in the area.
An official from the forest conservation department told Kashmir Reader that this was the first drive of its kind in which such large area of land was freed from the locals. They said that the anti encroachment operation was carried out by more than 150 employees of forest conservation department under the instructions of division forest officer Manzoor Ahmad Shah.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Pulwama/Shopian, Manzoor Ahmad Shah told Kashmir Reader that clearing 300 kanals of forest land from occupiers was the start of this drive, we are going to continue it. Nobody would be allowed to keep a single inch of forest land in occupation”. He added that plants in orchards were axed by the department. “We chopped the illegal plantation of orchards, razed down the huts and seized barbed wires. We have filed cases against the persons by the department,” he said.