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Encroachers gain amid mangrove loss in Odisha's Bhitarkanika

The issue of encroachments and illegal construction in mangrove forest surfaced after locals sought demolition of all unauthorised structures recently.

Published: 28th August 2021 09:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th August 2021 09:28 AM   |  A+A-

Illegal construction on forest land at Jagatajora within Bhitarkanika

Illegal construction on forest land at Jagatajora within Bhitarkanika. (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

KENDRAPARA: Even as Bhitarkanika remains in focus, unauthorised constructions have come up on mangrove forest land inside the national park within Mahakalapada range in the district. Some influential persons illegally felled mangrove forest at Jagatajora, Suniti and Ramanagara villages and constructed houses, markets and shops by blocking the water channels.

The issue of encroachments and illegal construction in mangrove forest surfaced after locals sought demolition of all unauthorised structures recently.

Secretary of Gahirmatha Marine Turtles and Mangrove Conservation Society Hemant Rout alleged that large-scale felling of mangrove trees by organised gangs is posing threat to existence of the green cover at Ramanagar,  Kharinashi, Suniti, Jagatajora and other areas around the park.

"Trees are being felled by encroachers and outsiders who are hand in glove with some unscrupulous forest and revenue staff," he claimed. Recently, some persons built concrete structures for a market complex at Jagatajora by clearing mangrove forest on banks of Gobari river.

Despite warnings from forest officials, mangrove trees are being continuously felled to make way for illegal buildings in  Bhitarkanika, alleged Pramod Mandal of Jagatajora.

Around 30 persons have built houses and shops by clearing mangrove forest at Ramanagar in Mahakalapada under the very nose of forest officials. The mafia are not only destroying natural resources but also occupying forest land illegally, he said.

"We had urged forest officials to demolish all illegal structures on forest land. But the drive to remove encroachments was put on hold without providing any reason," Mandal added.

Admitting the existence of illegal structures, Mahakalapada range officer Sahaji Charan Biswal said officials are working out ways to gather details about the forest land under unlawful occupation in Bhitarkanika. 

"Some persons illegally destroyed mangrove forest and constructed buildings at Jagatajora and other places. We will soon demolish all illegal buildings and take legal action against the encroachers," he added.



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