Himachal HC acts tough on encroachment by apple growers

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Shimla, March 22 (IANS) Expressing anguish over improper compliance of its directive about removing encroachments by fruit growers’ on forest land, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to act in the letter and spirit of the order.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan said any departure from the directions shall be dealt with in terms of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.

Directing the government to file the status report(s) again by March 30, the next date of hearing, the court asked the government to follow its orders issued from time to time in letter and spirit.

Observing that the orders passed by the court were not followed as expected, the judges said a specific reference was made in the order dated July 27 last year to prune the apple trees.

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Besides clearing the encroachment by fruit growers on forest land, the High Court had said electricity and water connections of encroachers should be disconnected.

In another case pertaining to the encroachment on government land at Chaithala village in Kotkhai tehsil in Shimla district, the High Court on Tuesday directed the deputy secretary (revenue) to remain present before the court on March 30, the next date of hearing.

The deputy secretary had filed status report in this matter but some ambiguity was observed by the bench that was hearing a petition that alleged that around 40 growers have raised apple orchards on around 500 bighas government land.

They allegedly felled deodar trees on the government land and raised orchards, said the petition.

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