GUWAHATI, Dec 13 - Assam Forest Minister Atowa Munda has sought the cooperation of all sections of people of the State to prevent encroachment of the forest areas, as it would be difficult for the Forest Department alone to prevent loss of forest cover.
When contacted for his comment on the State of Forest report prepared by the Forest Survey of India, which showed that Assam lost 48 square kilometers of forest cover in the last two years, the Minister said that the State Government has taken measures to recover encroached forest land along the inter-State boundary areas and new camps of forest personnel are being set up in those areas. He said that jhum cultivation is one of the major reasons for loss of forest cover in the hill districts.
Munda said that without the cooperation of the people, it would be difficult for the Forest Department alone to evict the encroachers from the forest areas. He pointed out that whenever the Forest Department launches eviction drives, mass agitations are launched. Citing one such example, he said that only recently, a major law and order situation was created when eviction drives were launched near the Kaziranga National Park. However, he assured that action would be taken against encroachers. At the same time, he said that the Government would try to rehabilitate those staying in forest land for ages, but no new encroachment would be tolerated.
He said that efforts are on to create awareness among people about the need for protecting forests to prevent climate change, and one such programme is planned at Kaziranga from January 7-10 in collaboration with the Tea Development and Cultural Affairs Departments.