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Reserved forest area shrinking in Manipur : reports
Correspondent IMPHAL, Mar 28:
Published on 28 Mar. 2011 11:33 PM IST
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Amidst the alarming decrease of total forest stock, Manipur has lost 28.35 sq km of total reserved forest area in the last eight years, an analysis to the survey reports available with the state forest department indicates.
According to the State of Forest Report 2003, by Forest Survey of India Dehradun, the total reserved forest cover of Manipur was 1467 sq km (8.6% of the total forest area of 17,219 sq km. While, according to the survey report of the state forest department, it was 1038.65 sq km (as on October, 2010).
Again out of the total 28.35 sq km lost reserved forest area, 16.28 sq km is due to encroachment, the report indicates. Except the Jiribam division out of the eight divisions of the state forest department, reserved forest were under encroachment.
Maximum encroachment of reserved forest area reported in Tamenglong division, in which, of the total 204.65 sq km area, 8.16 sq km has been under encroachment. 2.92 sq km of the total 193.08 sq km reserved forest area under Northern forest division (Senapati and Ukhrul districts) has been lost due to encroachment, the report maintained.
As per Manipur Forest Rules 1971, the Chief Conservator of Forest and the Forest Officer-in-charge of the division, has the power to evict summarily any person who unauthorizedly occupies or continues to occupy any land under the control of the forest department.
In case of resistance by the encroachers, the CCF/Officer in-charge of the divisions needs to bring the matter to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) who shall render necessary assistance through the police or other agencies to evict the trespassers.
However, it is learnt from sources that the department had not sought the assistance of the DCs concerned for eviction of the encroachers. No reason was recorded in the departmental record too, it is further learnt.
For ensuring protection of the reserved forest, construction and erection of boundary pillars is necessary. State forest department has taken up erection of boundary pillars for a length of 1235 km. However, source revealed erection of only 93.50 km (8%) of the total length leaving 1141.50 km without demarcation.
The audit of the CAG in respect of Manipur for the year ended March 31, 2010 pointed out the forest department and state government, in particular, for not framing a specific state forest policy. The department did not fix any specific targets for demarcation of reserved forests, it states.
During 2009-10, there was a shortfall of 750 hectares in plantations, 790 hectares and 770 hectares in maintenance of one and two year plantations respectively even though the aim of the forest department is forest management in the state including wildlife, biodiversity and habitats for management and rehabilitation of ecology balance and economic development of the people of the state.
The department had unauthorisedly expended Rs 53.59 lakh meant for preparation of working plan, regeneration activities and protection of forest, the report alleged.

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