Walled forests to keep encroachers away
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The forest department has been walling its land to prevent encroachment and save 2,000 hectares of forest land in various areas of the city under the threat of encroachment.
With cases of builders encroaching forestland coming to the fore, the department aims to erect 27,215 metre of wall in Warje, Taljai and Bhamburda.
The common boundary with existing buildings makes 2,245 metre of the wall in Taljai and 4,230 metre in Bhamburda unnecessary, which leaves the department with around 20,740 metre of wall to build.
"With the city and rural areas seeing encroachment of forest land, mostly hutments and some other construction too, we decided to build the walls. Earlier, we had only some fencing but with encroachment increasing, we decided to construct walls for which we are getting funds from the municipal corporation as well as the Centre,'' said chief conservator of forests Nitin Kakodkar.
After encroachment of some forest land came to light, the government had directed the district administration and the forest department to demarcate forest land but the administration could retrieve only 14,293 hectares of forest land, from the 35,183 hectares spread across 219 villages of the district.
Many hutments were found in forest land in the city area, while farmhouses were found to have been built forest land in rural areas. The walls was to discourage encroachment and the department started the exercise with Warje, Taljai and Bhamburda forests. They would thereafter focus on other areas.
The department has also listed some areas where forest land has been encroached, as 'sensitive'.
According to the department, 11,376 metre of wall needs to be constructed to protect the Taljai forest area and 2,245 metre of common boundary with various institutions and private buildings already exists. This leaves the department with 9,131 metre to construct. The department has completed construction of 2,703 metre using Rs 340 lakh allocated by the municipal body. "We will have to construct the remaining in the coming few months,'' said Deputy Conservator of Forests (Pune division) R S Kadam.