Saturday, June 6, 2009

Maldharis back in forest ?

Maldharis back in forest ?
The forest department of the Gir, which is conserving lion habitat, has come under scanner after being accused of conniving with Maldharis.
The Maldharis, who continue to reside in the forest area despite getting land elsewhere in the government's resettlement scheme, are being encouraged by forest officials to stay rooted in the reserved forest area, claimed Anil Chudasama, who moved a petition against forest department in the high court on Thursday.
Chudasama had brought a land plot in Mendarda through registered sale deed from ancestors of one Maldhari Raja Amra Rabari. Chudasama approached the court after the forest officials stopped him from doing any activities on the plot.
"Heirs of Raja Amra who are residing at Gangajalia ness (habitat of Maldharis in forest) are occupying the forest area along with their families and cattle herd. The forest department slaps small fines on them from time to time without prosecuting them," alleged Chudasama in affidavit.
"Similarly, many other Maldharis have sold their land and stay in Gangajalia nes, Vanivav ness, Kathi Alwadi ness and Amrutwell ness," said Chudasama.
Interestingly, the forest department had also moved the high court for obtaining permission to remove Maldharis from the reserved area. The court had, however, turned down the request saying the government already had power to do so. Chudasama, however, alleged that Maldharis were staying in reserved forest area with the blessings of forest department.
According to the details furnished by the collector of Junagadh, 279 transactions have taken place over the land in eight talukas of Junagadh - 21 in Mendarda, 49 in Talala, 10 in Keshod, 103 in Mangrol, 41 in Visavadar, 11 in Manavadar, four in Malia and 40 in Una.
On the other hand, the forest department data say 300 plots have been sold to the third party in those talukas.