India state forest department uses geospatial data to check on land encroachers

India state forest department uses geospatial data to check on land encroachers

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India: National Green Tribunal has refused to intervene in or stay the ongoing demolition drive of the forest department at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in New Delhi. Several residents had, along with their lawyers, pleaded before the bench asking them to revisit the decision to demolish encroachments. They also claimed that the khasra numbers of their properties were different from those listed by the department. The bench, however, did not order a stay. It directed the forest department to hold a hearing with affected parties and address their doubts.

The forest department, on its part, submitted a list of reasons justifying restoration of the sanctuary's boundaries. Additional principal conservator of forests G N Sinha has told media that the removal of unauthorised structures from sanctuary and reserved forest is based on geo-referenced maps prepared by a special task force, validated by Geospatial Delhi (GSDL) and further cross-checked by revenue officials of district commissioner (south). The forest department has asked affected parties to produce geo-coordinates of their properties. This will be overlaid that the maps to see if they fall within the forest area.

On April 24, residents of Asola village filed a writ petition in Delhi high court but even the court declined to grant any stay on the demolition drive. The digitised map of Asola was separately prepared for 1994 notification and 1996 notification and overlaid on satellite imagery. This highlighted that many farmhouses in Asola have raised high rise masonry wall as boundary which obstructs free movement of even the national bird, and fall under the purview of the sanctuary’s area.

Source: Times of India