Guwahati News Desk: The Environment and Forest Department of Assam has cleared over 3,400 hectares of forest lands from encroachments.
The department has arrested 194 people regarding the encroachment issues and over 2,960 illegal structures have been destroyed so far.
Over 3,000 hectare from 2016 to 2020 of encroachments were cleared from the reserved forest area, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and other protected areas.
In the lower Assam zone, 185.55 hectares has been cleared, 2.5 hectares in the Upper Assam zone, 615 hectares Karbi Anglong West Division, 50 hectares in Karbi Anglong East Division, 40 hectares in Haltugaon in Kokrajhar and around 22 hectares near Orang National Park.
According to the sources, the State Environment Minister Parimal Suklabaidya has been on a mission to remove and eliminate the reserved forests and other protected areas including wildlife sanctuaries and national parks from encroachments.
Minister Suklabaidya said, “The forest department is committed to free the forest lands from encroachments with the help of civil and police administration”.
“A zero-tolerance policy will be adopted against encroachments in forest lands, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, bio reserves and other protected areas,” minister Suklabaidya added.
The department is also trying to mop up revenue from the sand and stone mahals under Minor Mineral Concession Areas and to render 49 mahals functional.
The total 418 mahals that include 297 under Upper and Lower Assam Zones and 121 under 6th Schedule, 126 are functional under Upper and Lower Zones and 81 under 6th Schedule.
57 numbers of mahals have been put to tender, 55 cases settled following tenders and 50 cases pending due to litigations.
The department has also generated revenue of Rs 302.38 crore in the year 2020-2021 and Rs 20.02 crore approximately in June 2021-2022.
Massive afforestation programmes have been taken up to expand the green cover in the state by the forest department for which an action plan has been taken up by Social Forestry Wing for the current financial year.
50 km of avenue and median plantations along National Highways falling under Bongaigaon, Barpeta and Nalbari districts with funding by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), greening of greater Guwahati city on the median and along the roadside from Panjabari to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport of Borjhar and 220 hectares of plantation for all Forest Development Agencies under the National Afforestation Program and 720 hectares for all divisions under CAMPA will be taken up.