LAKHIMPUR: The Lakhimpur District Administration and the Lakhimpur Division of the Forest Department conducted a massive eviction drive to free 450 hectares of encroached land in the historic Pabha Reserved Forest on Tuesday.
According to information received from the Assistant Conservator of Forest, Lakhimpur Forest Division, a total area of 450 hectares of the Pabha Reserved Forest was encroached upon by some people for years.
Notably, the actual area of the Pabha Reserved Forest was 4625.87 hectares when created on March 6, 1941. The Reserved Forest was the habitat of wild buffalos in Assam. The administration launched the eviction operation in two phases. On Tuesday, the administration conducted the eviction drive at Mohghuli to free 200 hectares of land by evicting 202 households. During the operation mustard cultivations of the encroachers in the forest land were destroyed. Moreover, they also dismantled the houses not to let the encroachers settle again.
The second phase of the eviction is on Wednesday at the Adhakhana area of the forest to free 250 hectares of land by evicting 299 households.
The people claimed their rights over the land under the Forest Right Act of 2006. But their applications were rejected by the authority concerned. The State Government then decided to evict those people. The illegal settlers include people from different parts of the state and local people.
Sources said that the administration deployed over 600 personnel of State police and CRPF in the exercise.
Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner Sumit Sattawan said that the people living in the encroached areas were notified by the Forest Department and the district administration two years ago to vacate the area. On Monday, many of the 'illegal settlers' carried away their belongings.
During the operation, the Conservator of Forest Bankim Sarmah, Divisional Forest Officer Ashok Dev Choudhury, Assistant Conservator of Forest Achyut Kumar Das, Lakhimpur SP BM Rajkhowa, Commandant of 13th Assam Police Battalion, Circle Officer of Naoboicha Revenue Circle and many other administrative and security officers were present in the area.
ANI adds: "We will free around 450 hectares of land from the encroachers. Originally there were around 500 families, but after issuing notice nearly 300 families left the area. And many families left the area this morning also. We have deployed security personnel, but there is no report of any untoward situation," Lakhimpur SP BM Rajkhowa said.