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Forest department begins demolition of shops on Girnar hills

Written by: Staff

Junagadh, Sep 14 (UNI) The authorities of the forest department in Gujarat today began removing encroachments from the Girnar hills steps on way to Ambaji temple which is 5,500 steps above from the foothills(''taleti'').

In the ongoing drive today, so far 110 shops have been removed.

The forest department had given notices to all ''encroachers'' on August 4, 2006 saying they have time until September 6 to remove their shops. Interestingly all these establishments are there since 1960 onwards and during Shankarsinh Vaghela's tenure as Chief Minister in 1985, the forest department had began charging Rs 80 per month as rent and receipts too were given.

After 1985, the forest department asked all of them to vacate and a stay was brought by the shopkeepers from the court.

However a court judgement in 1995 removed the stay and later in 1997 during the tenure of Mr Keshubhai Patel, a demolition drive began.

The Keshubhai government made it clear to the shopkeepers they could not use pucca structures and only had to use temporary tents.

When the notices were sent on August 4, 2006, the shopkeepers approached the Junagadh Congress MP Jasubhai Barad and the Chief Conservator of forests at Gandhinagar. The MP took up their case and contended that when rent was being charged from the shopkeepers why was the forest department so keen on the demolition drive now.


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