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Forest area in JK still not demarcated

Srinagar, Feb 20: Seven years after a proposal was made for demarcation of the forest land, the government is yet to implement the project in the state.
In 2011, government made the proposal for demarcation of forest land including Dachigam National Park.
Seven years on, the project has not been executed yet.
An official of the Forest Department said that artificial boundaries were demarcated around forest land at several place in the state.
“Half of the forest land is open without any demarcation,” the official said.
The official said that thousands of kanals of the forest land were still illegally occupied, with the government failing to retrieve it from the encroachers.
He said that the increase in forest fires happen due to non-demarcation of forest land in the state.
“Had the forests been demarcated in the state, less incidents of this sort would have happened,” the official said.
The government had also made a proposal for the demarcation of the Dachigam National Park, which spreads over141 sq km.
However, so far the authorities have not identified its area, which extends in north to Dara Block, Sind Forest Division, Overa Aru wildlife Sanctuary and in South to Ridges of Cheshmashahi forests, Khanmoh Khrew forests, Hajin and Narastan and Zowirstan forests.
Its boundaries in east extend to Lake Marsar and in the West Harwan water reservoir and Zabarwan Forests.
“It only appears on papers that Dachigam spreads over 141 sq km, but the authorities have failed to identify the area. Even a proposal was framed years ago for its proper demarcation, which has been shelved for unknown reasons,” an official of the Wild Life Department, said.
He said the artificial demarcation of its boundaries was done at few places and the civilian population was also residing in its area at several places, posing a serious threat to its species.
Officials said with absence of boundaries and fencing, local live stock of the surrounding areas of the Dachigam Wildlife Park goes on a grazing spree in its upper reaches resulting in heavy habitat degradation.
Minister for Forests, Chowdhary Lal Singh, said the government has taken up several preservation measures for forest land.
“Vulnerable areas in forests are being demarcated on priority basis,” Singh said. “It will take several hundred crores for demarcation of entire forest land,” he said.
The recorded forest area is 20230 sq. kms, which constitutes 19.95 % of geographical area of the state. Recently, the government said that department has retrieved 1,48,339.40 kanal against 290126.82 kanal encroached forest land in Jammu division.
“Similarly the department retrieved 8553.60 kanal of 113852.78 kanal encroached forest land in Kashmir division,” the Forest Minister has said.