Eviction drive to clear 500 hectares of forest land in Assam: Officials

Lakhimpur, 8 Jan: An eviction drive to clear over 500 hectares of forest land in Assam’s Lakhimpur district, affecting nearly 100 families, will be undertaken by the administration on Tuesday, officials said.
A mock drill by security forces for the eviction drive was conducted on Sunday, they said.
Out of 2,560.25 hectares of Pava reserved forest, only 29 hectares are currently free of any encroachment. In the first phase, 500 hectares in Adhasona and Mohaghuli villages will be cleared in the January 10 exercise, the officials said.
The Himanta Biswa Sarma-led dispensation has been carrying out eviction drives in different places in the state since it assumed power in May 2021, with two such exercises undertaken last month.
The one in Nagaon’s Batadrava on December 19 was billed as one of the largest in the region in terms of the number of people affected, uprooting more than 5,000 alleged encroachers.
Among the other major eviction drives was one in Dhalpur area of Darrang district which led to violence, resulting in the death of two persons and injury of over 20 in September, 2021.
Lakhimpur divisional forest officer (DFO) Ashok Kumar Dev Choudhury said the eviction drive to clear Pava reserved forest area will be carried out in Adhasona and Mohaghuli villages on January 10 in the first phase.
He said 701 families have encroached on the Pava reserved forest land in the last decades. The illegal settlers include people from different parts of the state as well as local people displaced due to flood and erosion.
Lakhimpur district deputy commissioner, Sumit Sattawan, said about 80 families have already left the villages and another 100 are still living there.
“We requested the people still staying in these encroached lands to leave peacefully,” he said.
The DC said the people living in the encroached areas were notified by the Forest department and local administration two years ago to clear out. (PTI)
In July last year, 84 families submitted documents claiming land ownership but these were found to be fake upon scrutiny. On September 7, the circle officer of Naoboicha personally approached the encroachers and asked them to leave voluntarily, failing which eviction will be carried out on September 27, he said.
“We had to defer it as floods hit the area. Since the last two weeks, we have been once again informing that the eviction drive will be conducted on January 10. Though some people have left, others have continued to stay,” Sattawan added.
Lakhimpur, Superintendent of Police, Bedanta Madhab Rajkhowa said 600 personnel of state police and CRPF have been deployed for the exercise and a mock drill was conducted by the forces on Sunday.
“We are prepared to conduct the eviction drive in a smooth and peaceful manner as far as possible,” he added. (PTI)