July 24, 2024

Forest Dept reclaims 156 kanals of encroached land in Ganderbal in two years

Forest Dept reclaims 156 kanals of encroached land in Ganderbal in two years

Authorities crack down on timber, firewood smuggling; highlight eco-tourism initiatives

Raja Syed Rather

Ganderbal, Dec 26 (KNO): In the past two years, authorities in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district have successfully reclaimed 156 kanals of forest land, seizing 640 cubic feet of timber and approximately 18 quintals of firewood.

According to the data, obtained by the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the Forest Department has not only recovered significant forest land but has also confiscated four vehicles and filed nine FIRs related to smuggling and illegal harvesting of medicinal plants.

In these cases, 20 individuals have been identified as culprits, and 17 quintals of seized medicinal plants have been recorded.

Forest officials, speaking to KNO, said Ganderbal has a low deforestation rate compared to the rest of the Union Territory.

“To promote eco-tourism, the Ganderbal Forest Department has identified various locations, including Chontwaliwar to Lalmarg and Akhal to Khudmarg, forming the 7 Lake Trek (Naranag Gangabal Veshnasar-Lashpathri Sonamarg, Akhal-Akhal Marg Biodiversity Park, Dagapora Hayan-Dara, City Forest Sindh Lar-Lalmarg),” an official said, adding that this year, the recorded footfall at these locations reached 8,734.

He said the department plans to expand tracking initiatives to different locations within the Ganderbal Division. The establishment of a Chinar Gah over a 100-kanal area in Biodiversity Park Harran Ganderbal, with the planting of 130 Chinars, is a noteworthy effort by the department, he mentioned.

Owais Farooq Mir, DFO of Ganderbal Sindh Forest Division, speaking to KNO, said developments are going on at the City Forest Park located on the banks of Manasbal Lake. “The park now offers walking trails, cycle tracks and horse-riding facilities, and has been officially inaugurated. The project spans 2 km, featuring different blocks with unique features and facilities,” he said.

Looking ahead to the coming year, a massive plantation drive covering around 700 hectares is on the horizon, the DFO said.

Mir further added that wood allocation is part of a comprehensive door-to-door survey, with spot verification ongoing in all forest blocks of Ganderbal, including Chatergul, Wangath, and Akhal.

“Deserving households are receiving timber through this initiative, and the department urges public cooperation to ensure the effective implementation of laws against illegal activities,” Mir said, adding that the Forest Department is committed to combating encroachments and illegal activities in the region—(KNO)

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