SAMBALPUR: The issue of a hotelier encroaching upon the Budharaja reserve forest land in the name of renovation has kicked off a debate in Sambalpur district even as the forest officials deny any such activity.
A report in these columns on Wednesday brought to light the encroachment by the hotelier, who after purchasing the building which once housed the Jyoti Hospital, has demolished the boundary behind the plot and is extending it to deep inside the reserve forest.
Even the Divisional Forest Officer (Sambalpur South) Santosh Banchor feigned ignorance about extension of a hotel in BRF on Tuesday and promised to cross check the fact. However, on Wednesday the forest staff visited the area in question and gave a clean chit to the hotel.
Budharaja Vana Surakhya Samiti (BVSS) president Rushi Patra, who accompanied the forest staff, cast aspersions on the staffs’ observation.
Though the Forest Range Officer, Town Range, SC Khuntia and Forester Budharaja Section, Pruthiwiraj Behera were firm that the hotel has not encroached on the BRF, Patra said just a glance was enough to establish that land of BRF has been encroached upon.
Patra, who has been awarded Prakruti Mitra for regenerating BRF, cannot be wrong, said locals. They questioned why demarcation cannot be undertaken before giving the hotel a clean chit. He demanded that the land holding of the hotel be verified with the land in occupation to clear the issue.
Another resident of the area, octogenarian Munshi Yadav said even a layman who knows the topography of BRF will confirm that the hotel had encroached upon the land of BRF.