Forest protection relies on more than just protected areas
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Guwahati: Assam Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Sunday said that Assam’s forest land will not be allowed to be encroached upon by the neighbouring states.

Reviewing the status and activities of his departments in Lakhimpur, Suklabaidya said, “Not an inch of forest land will be allowed to be encroached upon by neighbouring states and by local people. All [encroached land] will be evicted in due course of time.” 

Those who have land rights under the protection of the Forest Regulation Act will not be evicted, he said. However, all encroachment that doesn’t fall under the ambit of the said act will be evicted. 

Around 2,436 hectares of forest land in the Lakhimpur district is encroached upon by Arunachal Pradesh, according to the forest officials. Whereas the official said that around 4,440 hectares of forest land are encroached upon by the locals. The forest department has so far evicted around 23 hectares of encroached forestland in the district. 

“He asked the forest officials to carry out eviction drives inside the Pobha reserve forest,” said a statement of the department. Pobha reserve forest has a total area of 10,522 hectares.

Last month, the BJP-led government said that over 3,400 hectares of forest land were freed from encroachers since it came to power in 2016. “Between April and June 23rd this year, a total of 915.05 hectares have been cleared from encroachments,” a statement of the Forest department said.

A report suggests that over 22 per cent of Assam’s total forest land is under encroachment. Out of the total forest land of 17,39,301.72 hectares, around 3,87,885.45 hectares was encroached upon, as per data made available by the then Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary in the Assembly in 2019.

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