September 7, 2021 6:23:12 am
Jhagadia MLA and Bhartiya Tribal Party supremo Chhotu Vasava has written to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, seeking the immediate removal of encroachments from forest lands across Gujarat, Referring to a recent report by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), which pegged an area of 292.38 hectares of forest land in Gujarat being under encroachments, Vasava contented that the state has allowed “powerful heavyweights of political organisations” to encroach lands for resorts and other commercial activities including illegal mining, thus “causing destruction” to forests as well as their tribal inhabitants.
He said, “It is a known fact that several heavyweights and powerful persons belonging to parties, mining operators (quarry industry), industrialists, resort owners and so on, have undertaken illegal cutting of trees and completed illegal construction of resorts, structures or by illegal mining, exploited forest lands that fall under the non-agriculture category, thus making a mockery of the laws present to protect Forest Lands.”
Referring to the MoEFCC data, Vasava said, “If such encroachments and damage to forest land are not arrested immediately, the next generation will be pushed into an age where they will struggle to breathe oxygen. The forest range in Gujarat has not been measured for several years and it is essential that the mapping should be done at the earliest to identify encroachments and remove them to safeguard the forests.”
Contending that laws for the protection of forests are being misused against tribals, Vasava wrote, “Despite the government having information, no legal action has been undertaken against land mining mafia and thieves of the forest lands. These laws are meant only to harass the tribals residing in the forest land. Such unchecked encroachments on forests, however, are not just a threat to the existence of the tribal community but also the overall population of the state and country.”
Meanwhile, BJP leader and Bharuch MP Mansukh Vasava has claimed that tribal voices are not being heard in the state Assembly. Addressing a tribal event at Rajpipla in Narmada district on Sunday, the MP said, “No one hears the tribals in the state Assembly. Crores of rupees are spent for tribal development but nothing reaches the tribals. Most MPs and MLAs who fight from reserved seats only aim to increase their own property without worrying about the betterment of the tribals. But so many MLAs and MPs do not open their mouths even if they have contested and won on reserved seat. But I speak what is the truth. If you have won on a reserved seat, you should stand up for their rights.”
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