Assam minister for environment and forest, fisheries and excise, Parimal Suklabaidya, on July 4 said that “not an inch of forest land will be allowed to be encroached upon by neighbouring states and also by local people and all will be evicted in due course of time.”

The minister said this while reviewing the status and activities of his departments at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in North Lakhimpur.

Reviewing the activities of environment and forest department, Suklabaidya said barring the people who have land rights under the Forest Regulation Act, all others will be evicted from forest land. The forest officials apprised the minister that 2,436 hectares has been encroached upon by Arunachal Pradesh and 4,440 hectares by local people. They added that 23 hectares encroached forest land has been evicted.

The minister asked the officials to carry out eviction from Pobha reserve forest with the help of the civil and police administration. The total area under five reserve forest is 31,096.55 hectares.

The officials also informed the minister that of the 3,390 applications received for settlement in forest land under FRA, 2,743 have been rejected while 647 are under review. Suklabaidya told the officials to expedite the process of applications under review.

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The minister asked the officials to undertake massive plantations under CAMPA during the Van Mahotsav Week. One lakh saplings are available in nurseries. He was informed that 25 hectares has been brought under CAMPA and 1.5 lakh saplings planted at Padumoni.

Suklabaidya requested deputy commissioner, Sumit Sattawan to set aside fund from DMFT for procuring tree guards under the Green Lakhimpur initiative.

The issue of man-elephant conflicts also figured in the meeting with minister Parimal Suklabaidya pointing out that ex-gratia would be released to the kin of those killed in conflicts within a few days and also adequate compensation to those whose paddy fields have been destroyed by elephants.

Suklabaidya directed the department to intensify the drive against liquor from Arunachal Pradesh and against illicit liquor (sulai). He asked the superintendent, excise department to constitute a dedicated team to keep a tab on liquor from Arunachal Pradesh at the main entry point at Banderdewa.

“Prohibiting the sale of liquor from Arunachal Pradesh and drive against sulai will help to save many a life and increase revenue,” he said. In the same vein, he asked the officials to promote country spirit and heritage drinks.

He also asked the department to create small sand and gravel mahals to enhance revenue and to close down the ones operating illegally. The minister asked the officials to file FIRs engaged in illegal extraction of sand and the SP to arrest the forest officials who are hand in gloves with unscrupulous elements. There are presently seven numbers of mahals in the district while six others are under e tender process.

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Reviewing the schemes of fisheries department, Suklabaidya asked the department to increase fish production by ensuring optimum utilisation of the vast water resources of the district. He underscored the need of focusing on PMMSY as “it can bring about total transformation of the fish scenario in the district and state as a whole”. In this context, Suklabaidya made it clear that no anomaly would be tolerated.

The review meeting was attended by MLAs Manab Deka, Amiya Kumar Bhuyan; DC Sumit Sattawan, SP Bedanta Madhab Rajkhowa, and other officials.

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