Port Blair, Apr 25 (UNI) The Andaman and Nicobar administration has initiated an anti-encroachment drive in almost all the remote scattered islands of the archipelago following the increasing number of encroachers.
Assistant Commissioner of Middle and North Andaman Jestine Parera told UNI today, ''Officially, the population of the Union Territory is a little more than two lakh but unofficially the number has crossed the 4.5 lakh mark due to uncontrolled influx of encroachers from the mainland. There are also cases where local residents of these islands have encroached upon government and forest land.
''Encroachment is a serious problem and to prevent it, we are now sending Patwaries and Tehsildars of the concerned areas to the various remote areas,'' Mr Parera added.
However, officials complained that legal hurdles were restricting the Andaman authorities in going ahead with the eviction drive.
As per the law, if the encroachers were living in a particular area for more than two years, the encroachment case could be handled only by civil court and revenue authorities were not empowered to evict them.
''In Andaman, after every anti-encroachment drive, most of the encroachers get stay order from court to avoid eviction, creating hurdles for revenue authorities,'' the officials said.
''The case has to be heard by the civil court and this restricts us from going ahead with the drive,'' Mr Parera added.
Last week, the District Administration of Middle and North Andaman conducted a series of fresh anti-encroachment drives and evicted at least 15 fresh encroachments, which were made during the past two years.
Meanwhile, to deal with fresh encroachments, the administration recently released an official warning, appealing the people to desist from encroaching upon government land, non-compliance of which would attract action under relevant provisions of the law.
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