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Jammu KashmirCM questions Forest Minister’s claims on eviction of Gujjars

CM questions Forest Minister’s claims on eviction of Gujjars


CM questions Forest Minister's claims on eviction of Gujjars

Tawi, Nov 08: Taking a serious note of the reports of alleged eviction of Gujjars and Bakerwals from some forest areas in Jammu region, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today asked the Forest Department to exercise caution so that the poor nomadic communities living in forest areas for decades together are not harassed and dislocated.

According to highly placed sources, speaking at the meeting of Administrative Secretaries here today, the Chief Minister while referring to the reports of selective eviction of Gujjars and Bakerwals from the forest areas and subsequent protests by them, said that it is the responsibility of the Government to safeguard the habitations and livelihood of the tribal communities which is deeply linked to the forests. “If they (Gujjars) have been living in the forest areas for three to five decades, they can't be forced on roads, for whatever reasons,” she said.

According to sources, some influential Ministers in the PDP-BJP coalition government have been repeatedly voicing their concern over the selective eviction of Gujjars from the forest areas of Jammu region.

Pertinently, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has also made it clear that nobody has the right to snatch away the land of tribals where they have been living for decades.

“It's the priority of our government to ensure that tribal get their right. No one has right to snatch away their lands,” the Prime Minister said while inaugurating the first Tribal Carnival at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi last month.

Meanwhile, responding to the reports of selective eviction of Gujjars from the forest areas of Jammu, Minister for Forests, Ecology and , Choudhary Lal Singh said his department upholds the concept of associating local communities for conservation and preservation of forests as stakeholders.

He said the department has initiated a process for registration of all genuine nomads to facilitate their movement, grazing of livestock and overall livelihood including dependence on minor forest produce. “So far more than 410 families have been registered and all DFOs have been directed to enroll and register the nomadic and tribal families for a permanent database indicating details of members of families and number of livestock owned which will help the department to facilitate them and keep check on land grabbers who often resort to using the poor nomads for their vested interests,” the Minister said and added that more than 45000 hectares of forest land has been retrieved from encroachers this year and it mostly included the land grabbed by well off and influential people.

The Minister assured redressing all grievances of tribal and nomadic families in such cases of alleged demolition of houses and reaffirmed that no family will be disturbed while the department will continue its drive against encroachers who have grabbed huge chunks of land especially in semi-urban areas where cost of land is huge.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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