Himachal HC asks Army’s Eco-Task Force to clear forest encroachment

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Shimla, July 20 (IANS) Upset over the delay in getting the encroached government land back from apple growers in upper Shimla, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday asked the Eco-Task Force, comprising ex-servicemen, to get it vacated.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol directed the Eco Task Force, set up by the Indian Army for carrying out plantation, to deploy personnel for implementing the court order.

“The jawans shall assist the members of the Special Investigating Team in addition to 125 personnel so deployed by the Forest Department for carrying out the operations,” said the bench.

“They shall work in tandem with the SIT so as to ensure that every encroachment over forest and public land in villages is removed forthwith.”

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Listing the case for further hearing on July 24, the judges directed the Deputy Commissioner of Shimla to ensure deployment of efficient and effective staff in assisting the SIT and the Eco-Task Force.

The court was informed that the apple harvesting season is on and that encroachers were now attempting to harvest the crop and market it for their pecuniary gains.

“We notice that no action is being taken against big encroachers,” the judges said.

Most of the land encroachments are in Jalatha, Chaithla and Pungrish villages in Kotkhai tehsil in Shimla district.

The court, in its earlier order, had directed snapping of electricity and water connections provided to all illegal structures raised over the forest land.

–IANS

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