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Farmers ‘grab’ Forest Dept land in Sardargarh village

Land of the Forest Department has allegedly been grabbed by some farmers and they have been using it for the agricultural purpose for the past many years at Sardargarh village.
According to village panchayat members, their constant efforts to free the government land proved futile as the Forest Department have failed to take appropriate action in this regard.

Reportedly, a tract of around one acre, which previously was part of canal minors near the Behman tributary channel of Sirhind Canal, now is being used by a few farmers of the village for the agricultural purpose.

Sherjit Singh, numberdar of the village, said, “According to the Punjab Land Act, 1958, land under canal minors that was not in use has been brought under the authority of the state Forest Department. Besides, thousands of acres were transferred from the Irrigation Department to the Forest Department under the Act. Even as the Forest Department has conducted demarcation of the land, it is continued to be used by some farmers for the past many years.”

“With the Forest Department barely taking any concrete steps to free the land, these farmers not only grabbed it arbitrarily but also started cultivating it for the past many years. We have written to the Chief Minister and Forest Minister and Deputy Commissioner on a number of occasions, but to no avail. We have also sought information from the Forest Department under the RTI Act and in its reply, the department had stated that it has taken possession of the land and plantation was carried out in that area. But it is ironical that the ground reality was completely different as the land is being used by some farmers. We want to free the Forest Department land at the earliest so that tree can be planted here to increase the green cover,” he added.

Village’s sarpanch Bikramit Singh, “The Forest Department had issued notices to the farmers who had been using the land for irrigation. But no forest official reached the spot to free the land.”

District Forest Officer Swaran Singh said, “I have joined the office here recently. If somebody has encroached upon government land, we will take appropriate action in this regard.”