KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday allowed more time to secretary provincial forest department to file comments on a petition against deforestation in the province.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool adjourned the hearing of case when provincial law officer requested it for more time to file comments of secretary forest department.
The petition was filed by non-profit organization, the United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Rana Faizul Hasan, NGOs secretary general submitted that influential persons had encroached vast forest areas in different districts of the province. He quoted a press report and said that a total of 108,549 acres of forest land were encroached.
He prayed to the court to direct the provincial authorities to produce entire record of the forest land leased out from 1985.
Earlier, Chief conservator forest has submitted a report regarding deforestation, stating that forests are the open property and prone to damage for which action is taken under the Forest Act. All the forest offences are compoundable and offenders are fined under the relevant provisions of Forest Act.
Report said it is fact that revenue department has allotted around 47907.17 areas of precious forestland to influential persons in entire province and that land was being used for agricultural purposes. Consequently, forest department had preferred appeals to recover the land, however, 215 court cases regarding violation of forest laws have been pending disposal since the decades.
Forest department acceded to the fact that land mafia in connivance with revenue officials has usurped the forestland and inflicted heavy loss to the provincial exchequer.
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