Mahendranagar grapples with rampant encroachmentTwelve years ago, there were around 1, 300 Sal (Shorea robusta) trees at Salghari forest in Mahendranagar. But rampant encroachment has reduced their numbers to around 300 to 400 now.
Twelve years ago, there were around 1, 300 Sal (Shorea robusta) trees at Salghari forest in Mahendranagar. But rampant encroachment has reduced their numbers to around 300 to 400 now.
Encroachers have been girdling many trees and cleared the forest land to build dozens of huts. Salghari forest has shrunk to 45 bighas after around 100 bighas of encroached land was handed over to landless squatters, freed Kamaiyas (former bonded labourer), workers and locals a few years ago.
But the forest officials have been mute spectators all this while, local people and officials complain.
Devraj Mishra, a member of the Bhimdatta Municipal Development Committee, claimed they have allocated budget to the forest office for the conservation of Salghari area. “It’s the responsibility of forest office to conserve the forest land,” said Mishra.
Locals said that the forest land had been encroached upon after People’s Movement-II with support of political parties. According to the District Forest Office, 6,280 hectares of forest land has been encroached in 76 places in the district. Encroachers have built around 10, 000 houses and huts in the forest land, forest officials said.
The DFO informed that people have actively encroached upon the forest land in Khallamhheti, Totiphuleli, Bani, Domilla, Bailakundi and Machheli. Assistant Forest Officer Bir Bahadur Thagunna have conceded that they cannot evict encroachers from the forests without the help from concerned stakeholders.