The encroached structures on government land partially razed during an eviction drive at Hurlung near Telco earlier this year. In the backdrop, forest area can be seen
The apathy of Jamshedpur forest division is giving land sharks a free run to usurp forest areas close to the city for real estate development.
According to sources in East Singhbhum district administration, no less than 40 acres of forestland have been encroached upon by the mafia.
Speaking to The Telegraph, East Singhbhum additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar said: “We had informed Jamshedpur forest division about large tracts of their land being encroached upon. Letters were written twice in July to officials, asking them to let us know the exact proportion of land and send an official request to take action against encroachers. But they did not heed us so far.”
Despite intimations, the forest department has not been forthcoming about the status of illegally occupied forestland, the senior official pointed out.
Kumar added the reluctance or delay on the part of the forest department allowed encroachers to sell land illegally.
Encroachment of forestland came to the notice of the district administration during a massive eviction drive between March and May.
Around 60 acres of government land was freed from encroachers in Hurlung, Manifita, Govindpur and Mango areas situated close to the forest areas of the city.
Information was passed on to the forest officials about their land being usurped by the land mafia.
“We have taken action against the culprits, who had encroached on government land by razing illegal constructions and lodging cases under Bihar Public Land Encroachment Act (1966). But we cannot take action against encroachers of forest land until officials approach us formally,” Kumar said.
When asked, forest officials admitted to not replying to the district administration’s letters.
However, foresters refuted the allegations that they were turning a blind eye to illegal occupants of their land.
“We have received letters from the district administration and will discuss the issue with them. However, we are not sitting silently on land encroachment. We have lodged cases under the Bihar Land Encroachment Act wherever possible against culprits. But unlike the district administration, we cannot simply raze illegal structures. We have to obey legal procedures,” Jamshedpur DFO Karma Bhutia defended their position.