HYDERABAD: Senior officers of forest, revenue and police departments on Thursday vowed to launch a grand operation on Monday (March 11) against encroachment on 33,235 acres of forest land in compliance with the order of Supreme Court.

A meeting of the officers of three departments presided over by Matiari Deputy Commissioner Pervez Ahmed Baloch decided further that police and anti-encroachment force would also carry out a flag march on Saturday to warn law breakers. Action would be taken against encroachments in the light of the apex court order without any discrimination, he said.

Hyderabad divisional forest officer Sanaullah Buledi said that of 70,275 acres forest land in Matiari district 16,940 and 747 acres had fallen prey to encroachment and illegal allotment, respectively, while another 15,548 acres had been leased out as per agro-forestry policy.

He said that now total area under encroachment and illegal allotment came to 33,235 acres in Matiari district only. The forest department had also had notices published in dailies to warn encroachers, he said.

He said that Supreme Court had ordered the Sindh government on Oct 27 last year to remove encroachments and illegal allotment on forest land throughout the province and subsequently Sindh cabinet meeting held on Jan 7, 2019 in Karachi took a landmark decision to cancel all leases by forest chief conservator under the agro-forestry lease policy after which the leased land of forests came under the definition of encroachment.

“It is a good opportunity for the forest department to protect, raise and preserve forests as the judiciary and both federal and provincial governments have joined hands to save forests,” he said.

The federal government had launched plantation campaign across the country and nature was also aiding the effort with heavy rains and snowfall, creating an ideal situation for the rebirth of forests, he said.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019