JEYPORE: Massive encroachment has posed a serious threat to the existence of Penagi and Naktidangar reserve forests in Jeypore. Major part of these reserve forests are now under occupation of land sharks as the Forest Department has turned a blind eye to the blatant illegalities.
Sources said 40 per cent (pc) of Penagi reserve forest near the Kenduleaf office has been encroached while, about 30 pc of the Naktidangar forest has been taken over by real estate dealers. At main irrigation canal and Purnagada areas in Jeypore, houses have been constructed on the reserve forest land.
Penagi and Naktidangar reserve forests are located close to Jeypore DFO office and Hatapada area respectively and they were demarcated twice - once during the British rule and in 2009. As per records, the Penagi reserve forest spreads over 24 acres and Naktidangar stands over 238 acres of land. Forest Department, in the past, had spent crores of rupees to plant sandalwood, sal and teak trees in these reserve forests, which are rich in flora and fauna.
Sources added that plots in the reserve forests are being sold at `1 lakh for one cent (435.6 sq ft) by real estate dealers. In the absence of fencing and monitoring by forest officials, they are finding it easier to encroach the forest areas. Although there have been proposals to fence the reserve forests along with fresh demarcation of land by both Forest and Revenue Departments, the measures have not got off due to lack of coordination between the two departments. When the forests were demarcated 10 years back, there was no encroachment.
Jeypore DFO, Aswini Kar said efforts are on to clear the encroachment. The land demarcation will start soon and hoardings will be put up notifying the reserve forests.
Meanwhile, environmentalists have urged the Chief Conservator of Forests to deploy fact finding teams to assess the extent of encroachment. They threatened to resort to agitation if the encroachments are not cleared soon.