Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said that the government has cleared illegal encroachment from almost 90 per cent area of the Pabha Reserve Forest in the Lakhimpur district of the state.
The eviction drive to clear encroachment by the district administration had begun on January 10 and continued has continued for several days. Over 500 families residing illegally in the forest lands are to be evicted.
Taking to Twitter, CM Sarma wrote, “Our commitment to preserve our natural resources is sacrosanct. Happy to share that after 5 days of eviction exercise 4,163 ha (32,000 bigha) of Pabha Reserve Forest freed from encroachers.”
“Total area in Pabha Reserve is 4625.85 ha. Well done Team in conserving our forest cover,” added the CM.
It may be noted that officials of the Lakhimpur district administration along with forest department officials had on the second day cleared as many as 202 families during the eviction drive at Mohguli.
Officials informed that the target was to clear out a total of 450 hectares of forest lands from encroachers. So far, 250 hectares have been cleared during the first day of eviction.
Earlier on January 9, reports emerged that the Lakhimpur district administration will evict over 500 families from around 5 sq km land of the Pabha Reserve forest. Eviction drives were carried the next day as per instructions from Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The reserve forest is spread over 46 sq km, nearly 15 km towards the south of the NH-15. According to the administration, 507 families belonging to the Muslim community were illegally living in the forest land.
An official of the Lakhimpur forest division said the families had filed a petition before the district authority, seeking land rights in the forest area under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
“We challenged the petition as they do not belong to any tribal community. In September, the district authority finally rejected their petition and allowed us to initiate steps to free the forest land,” the officer added.