LARKANA/SUKKUR: Some 12,000 acres of forest land in Larkana district and over 5,000 acres in Sukkur district is under the occupation of unauthorised people and the forest department is unable to retrieve it.
This emerged at separate meetings of the respective public vigilance committees constituted recently on the orders of the Sindh High Court.
Arshad Hyder Kamario, the divisional forest officer, Larkana, told a meeting of the ‘public vigilance committee for monitoring the forest cover in Larkana district’ on Wednesday that influential political and tribal figures as well as criminals had been occupying an estimated 12,000 acres of forest land in this district. He said the revenue department possessed no record of the land.
The meeting was presided over by Larkana district and sessions judge Irshad Ali Shah and attended by its members — the deputy commissioner, SSP, a senior lawyer and a former divisional forest officer.
He directed the divisional forest officer, forest and revenue departments and the Sukkur police to formulate a joint strategy to retrieve the land and bring it on the record of rights, besides registering cases against all those involved in the illegal occupation and use of the forest land.
Larkana Additional Deputy Commissioner-I Ghulam Qadir informed the meeting that revenue department was ready to make entries of the forest land in the record of rights (ownership) if it was provided with the necessary permission from the land utilisation secretary.
The department would also need relevant documents in this regards, he said.
The meeting told the revenue and forest officers concerned to sit together and work out a procedure for completing/updating the record.
Mr Kamario complained that the area police were not registering cases against encroachers of the forest land. ASP Hassan Sardar, who was representing Larkana SSP at the meeting, assured the committee that registration of such cases would be ensured.
Responding to a sessions court letter dated Sept 10, 2014, Mr Kamario informed the committee that scores of FIRs were routinely registered at the police stations of the district but the police were reluctant to book ‘influential encroachers’ for landgrabbing. This was encouraging encroachers who were continuing with their illegal activity, he added.
The letter noted that revenue employees were involved in mutation of forest lands, and in this regard referred to the mutation of 37 acres of land in Deh Nazar Detho of Ratodero taluka.
According to sources privy to the meeting, Mr Kamario called for entering forest land in form-VII as per the Bombay Gazette notification of 1887, and observed that the revenue department was using dilly delaying tactics.
A meeting of the public vigilance committee for Sukkur district held a couple of days back was informed that more than 5,000 acres of forest land in Sukkur district was under the illegal occupation of influential figures and criminals.
A report in this regard was presented to the Sukkur district & sessions judge Amjad Ali Bhoyo, who presided over the meeting.
Sukkur division forest officer Iftikhar Arain stated in his report that a total of 5,356 acres of forest land in both kutcha and pacca areas was under the illegal occupation of unauthorised people.
He said the encroached upon land was stretched over Bhindi Dhareja, Qadir Pur, Shah Belo, Panhwari, Sadhuja, Budh, Rohri Ding, Bagerji and certain other areas.
The judge called for registration of case against the encroachers and said action should be taken against them.
The committee decided to hold its meeting every month for updates in the process.
SP headquarters Amjad Hayat, Additional Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ayub Chachar, Advocate Naveed Shah and other members of the committee were present.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2014
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