GUWAHATI, March 9 - Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma today told the Assembly that besides common encroachers, tea gardens and rubber plantations were also encroaching on forestland, and that the government was trying to evict the �new� encroachment by tea gardens and rubber plantations.
Replying to a question by Congress legislator Abdul Khaleque, who alleged government inaction in removing encroachment by luxury resorts and tea and rubber plantations while acting tough on poor landless settlers, Brahma said that the eviction drive would continue in a phased manner and that new encroachment on forestland by tea gardens would also be removed.
The minister, however, clarified that there was no resort in forestland in Assam.
The minister also revealed that of the total forestland (reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks) of 17,87,262.45 hectares, a combined area of 3,55,416.87 hectares had been under encroachment. Congress legislator Abdul Kalam Rashid Mandal said that large-scale rubber plantation in Goalpara district was eroding vast stretches of reserved forests with the Forest authorities turning a blind eye to the development.