Monday October 02, 2023

‘Forest force’ to protect Sindh forest lands on the cards

May 14, 2023

KARACHI: Like the Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces, the Sindh government is planning to form a special ‘forest force’ to protect the forest lands of the province.

Following the orders of the Sindh High Court (SHC), the Sindh government has directed the Sindh Law Department to enact a law to establish a forest force for the eradication of encroachment on the lands of the Forest Department.

Earlier the SHC was informed that 32,000 acres of land of the forest department was encroached out of which 24,000 acres of land had been recovered and the remaining 8,000 acres of land is still under occupation. The SHC bench ordered the Chief Secretary Sindh that like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the province should have formed a forest force to protect the forests of their provinces.

Following the same direction, the Chief Secretary Sindh has directed the Secretary of Law Department to make a law for the establishment of the Forest Force and after getting the draft of the legislation approved by the Sindh Cabinet, get approval in the form of a bill from the Sindh Assembly.

After the approval of the Sindh Assembly, the Bill will become an Act, after which the Sindh government will establish the Forest Force to protect the forest lands.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan also had taken notice of this issue and directed the provincial government authorities to vacate the forest land from the influential encroachers.

Moreover, the decision of establishing a special force for the purpose in near past many times the SHC had ordered the Sindh government authorities including the forest department to retrieve illegally occupied lands in different districts of the province including of Keti Mumtaz, Keti Kharal, Keti Fareedabad, Keti Jatoi, and other areas.

Besides, the SHC last year on May 2 had asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to hold an investigation into the allotment of forest land since 1985 and the director general of Sindh Rangers to provide security to the officials and personnel in the process of the retrieval of forest land from illegal occupants.

NAB prosecutor during the proceeding informed the court that the bureau had already started its investigation as per the court’s order and stated that 10 patches, nine in Khairpur district and one in Naushahro Feroze district of forest land in the katcha area were under illegal occupation of some influential political figures.