Jammu and Kashmir has 133 square kilometers of forests land under encroachment, forest minister said on Friday.
“The total area of the forests land is to the extent of 20,230 square kilometers in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of this 133.60 square kilometers is under encroachment in the state”, Minister for forests Mian Altaf Ahmed said in a written reply to the question of Congress member Mohammad Sharief Niaz in the Assembly.
He further said that department has taken several measures to retrieve old encroached land.
“An area of 127.10 hectares of forests land has been retrieved from 2005 onwards in Jammu region and 987.01 hectares in Kashmir region had been evicted from encroachers from 2007 onwards”, he said.
Besides, 13 attempts of fresh encroachments have been foiled and an area of 309 acres of forests land have been saved from clutches of land mafia in Jammu area, he said.
FIRs have been lodged against the culprits and forests land record is being updated and for this, the help of the revenue officials are also being obtained wherever necessary.
Awareness among the people is being created with the help of Village Forest Committees (VFCs) against the menace of encroachments, he said adding retrieved areas are taken up for the plantation after fencing on priority.
Jammu and Kashmir is the first state in the India to create forest protection force which is helping in protection of forests from all sorts of damages, including encroachments, he said.