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Arrested for felling mangroves

Forest personnel have taken a 52-year-old man and his son into custody on charge of causing destruction to mangrove species and felling forest species in protected forest areas in Kendrapara district.

The intruders were intercepted inside Batighar reserve forest areas under Mahakalpada block while they were pulling down standing mangrove and other classified forest species. Implements used by the arrested persons to pull down the trees were seized on the spot. Forest personnel also made a seizure of a mechanized speed boat which the offenders had anchored at the nearby creek to ferry the logs.

In a drive since past one year, 70 people have been so far been arrested for felling trees within the protected area. Following stepped up vigil by forest patrol teams, incidents of tree felling have considerably come down.

The offenders- Pravash Jardar (52) and his 22-year-old son Bijoy Jardar- were later remanded to jail custody today 29 March 2017 under section 4, 14 and 21 of Forest conservation act, 1980 and various other provisions of Wildlife protection act, 1972. Axes, other form of tree cutting tools besides nylon ropes were seized from their possession, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Mr. Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

In a related development, Bhitarkanika National Park authorities have launched a drive in evicting the squatters from the reserve forest area.

 Over fifty cases have been registered against several other unauthorized occupiers under forest law.

Unlawful settlers have also been evicted from mangrove forest area, said officials.

The forest areas mainly in Mahakalpada forest range where the tail end of the Mahanadi river system meanders through and crisscrosses by innumerable water-inlets, had come under human encroachment. Temporary mud walled structures had come up.  Patches of land had been occupied by a section of fishermen community. In the occupied forestland, prawn dykes had come up as it was conducive for such activity due to ingress of saline water. But these areas have now been made encroachment-free following periodic raids by forest department personnel, said officials.

Special squads constituted for intercepting wildlife offences are also keeping close watch on illegal fishing in water bodies and creeks within the national park.

“Fishing activity within the water-bodies of the wildlife sanctuary and national park is a cognizable offence. The forest department has stepped up its vigil on any act of trespass into prohibited territories to ensure the safety of flora, fauna and the fragile eco-system of Bhitarkanika”, added DFO Mr. Acharya.

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