After corruption, Anna guns for illegal forest encroachment

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Anna Hazare
Pune, Sep 19: Activist Anna Hazare, who recently became India's 'national hero' after Mahatma Gandhi, due to his successful anti-corruption campaign, is now focusing on the cases of illegal encroachment on forest lands in Maharashtra at the culmination of the Jan Lokpal movement.

'Our very own' Anna wants the government to look into the matter of forest land being transferred illegally for commercial development.

Anil Sharma, Hazare's personal assistant said,"Anna had pointed out that neither the revenue department, nor the forest department had a complete list of the forest lands in the state. This has led to rampant illegal encroachments on forest lands".

Sharma states that amongst all the places involved in illegal forest land encroachment cases, Pune and Jalgoan tops the list of irregularities. He added, "Normally, the forest department transfers land to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) interested in developmental activities."

"Once the land is transferred and deforested, the NGO hands it over to a private builder who develops the land commercially".

He said that the issue of illegal encroachment on forest land was taken up by the Gandhian when Hazare was a member of the Planning Commission 5 years ago. Hazare had raised the issue in the tenure of the erstwhile chief ministers over the last 5 years, but no concrete action was taken by the government.

"When Hazare spoke about this to the chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, he promised swift action and a special committee was constituted three months back to study the matter," he said.

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