ISLAMABAD: In just one case, more than 800 acre (6,400 kanal) forest land in Rajanpur has been used by some local influential people for illegal cultivation of wheat and tobacco with the authorities turning a blind eye to this crime.
According to an official probe report, out of 1,827 acres of forestland at Rakh Khanwan in Rajanpur, 882 acres have submerged in the river, while 945 acres are available at the site. There is encroachment in over 800 acres out of 950 acres. In the encroached land, wheat and tobacco were cultivated after ploughing the land during Oct-November 2019.
There are 30 Bores and Peter Engines installed by the encroachers in the forestland for irrigation. But neither any action against the offenders has been taken nor the matter has been reported to the forest department.
While the junior forest staff admitted that the matter was not reported to the higher authorities, the then Regional Forest Officer also admitted that no explanation had been sought from the officials concerned for the illegal cultivation of wheat on the forestland in Rakh Khanwan Beat.
The area DFO (District Forest Officer) said during the inquiry that the RFO submitted wrong facts report to him and concealed the illegal cultivation on huge forestland.
The inquiry report confirmed the allegation of illegal cultivation. It said 1,824 acres had been transferred to the forest department in 1958. The land, which was initially encroached, was retrieved in 2015 but the land mafia succeeded to illegally cultivate the forestland due to sheer connivance of the local forest officials.
The inquiry report recommended action against the responsible officials besides seeking to direct the DFO Rajanpur and Conservator Forest DG Khan to ensure attachment/auction of the illegally cultivated crop besides ensuring appropriate legal action against the illegal cultivators.
It was also recommended that requisite funds, either development or non-development, should be provided to the DFO Rajanpur for afforestation of the encroached land in order to avoid its re-encroachment in future.