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Forest dept confirms excavation of the murrum

Nagpur updates: The forest department has conducted a preliminary survey and reported the excavation of murrum from its notified forest reserve land at Mouza Kotumba, Selu tehsil, in Wardha district, after turning a blind eye to brazen violations over the past seven months. Activist Sandip Khedkar, who had revealed it, has said murrum mining is also underway in two more forest lands for Samruddhi Mahamarg construction.

On March 4, nagpur updates announced that three pieces of land, including forest land with mouza Kotumba khasra No. 206, had been excluded from the Wardha district administration for fine imposed on Samruddhi Mahamarg contractor Afcons Infrastructure Limited.

The administration promised that it will conduct surveys on two lands it owns— khasra No. 7 of mouza Itala reserved as a zudpi jungle and khasra No. 65 of mouza Giroli which is a hillock. The administration has also reportedly sent a letter for inspection to the forest department on the latter’s land with khasra no. 206.

Sunil Sharma, deputy forest conservator of Wardha,”The survey is being conducted over the last few days. The preliminary survey indicates clearly some excavation in No. 206 of khasra. This is a notified forest reserve.

The region is extremely divided, and the area is toodpi. I have demanded to map of the excavated area, evaluating the damage and reporting an offense. The atter will be prosecuted. “Sharma said on the seven-month delay,” Action will be taken against the workers involved in erring. After receiving a complaint from Khedkar, I was directed to inspect and take necessary action immediately, “he said.

Since August last year, had been reporting without permission on the excavation of murrum being done for Nagpur-Mumbai super communication expressway. Under RTI, Khedkar came to know that mouza Kotumba khasra No. 206 was forest land and in 1989 the department of social forestry had planted 15,200 on it and khasra no 210. Last year TOI reported the matter on 9 December.

Khedkar had lodged a complaint with all forest department offices right from Hingni to Wardha, Nagpur, and Mumbai on December 23, last year.

Citing a starred question in the state legislature council, Selu tehsildar Mahendra Sonone had written a letter to the departments of forests as well as social forestry. On 20 February, Selu police had written to the Forest Department on Khedkar’s complaint.

The forest service, however, remained quiet, and inspection has only begun now.

As per his preliminary inquiry, Sharma said khasra no. 206 was not a tiger corridor. “I think for Samruddhi Mahamarg 0.75 hectares from the total area of 4.68 hectares of this khasra have been de-notified and handed over,” he said.

Khedkar told TOI, “On March 9, I obtained documents from the Land Records Department and learned that khasra nos. 293/1 of 0.6 hectares and 293/2 of 50.71 hectares are also woodland. On 30 May 1997, the state government had handed these two lands over to the forest. These two lands are both undergoing excavations, “he said.

Sharma promised to look at those two lands as well.

Any type of excavation and forest felling on zudpi and notified reserved forest invites stringent action under the Forest Protection Act.

A spokesperson for Afcons said, “Afcons has consistently denied its participation in any kind of illicit excavation at all. Afcons seems to be unfairly targeted and harassed with a malafid intent to hinder the smooth implementation of Samruddhi Mahamarg, which is a public interest project. Such a false campaign is being motivated primarily to tarnish Afcons ‘ reputation in the corporate sphere.

Nagpur Updates

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