More than three lakh hectare of reserved forest land is under encroachment with the highest illegal occupancy of such forests in Madhya Pradesh, the environment ministry said on Thursday. Responding to a query raised in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State (MoS) for Environment Ashwini Choubey said his ministry has written to the states and Union Territories to remove the encroachments and ensure that no further encroachment takes place.
With more than 54,000 hectares of its reserved forest area (RFA) under encroachment, Madhya Pradesh has the highest illegal occupancy of forests in India, closely followed by Arunachal Pradesh with 53,450 hectares of encroached land, showed the data shared by the minister. It said that a total of 3,67,214 hectare of reserved forest land has been encroached across the country.
Among other states, encroached forest land in Andhra Pradesh stood at 34,358 hectare, the third highest in the country, in Odisha, it is 33,154 hectare, Jharkhand 29,048 hectare, and Uttar Pradesh 27,325 hectare. The minister said that protection and management of forests is primarily the responsibility of concerned state/UT, but whenever any complaint regarding encroachment is received, the same is forwarded to the state/UT for taking appropriate action as per the extant acts, rules and regulations.
“The states and Union Territories also take various measures such as demarcation and digitisation of forest boundaries, strengthening infrastructure for forest protection, involving fringe area forest communities such as Joint Forest Management Committees, Eco Development Committees to prevent and control encroachments,” the minister said in a written response. “The ministry has written to state governments and Union Territory administrations to remove encroachments and ensure that no further encroachment takes place as per the existing acts/rules,” he said.
With PTI Inputs