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2,000-acre forestland freed from encroachers: Minister 

Chandigarh: Forest and Wildlife Preservation Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot said here today that at least 2,000 acres of forestland in the state had been freed from encroachment during the first year of the Congress rule.Addressing a press conference, he said about 31,000 acres of forestland was still under encroachment. The department has set a target of freeing 10,000 acres till May-June, Dharamsot added.The government has regained possession of forestland in Muktsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Rupnagar, Nawanshahr, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.The minister said 400 acres, encroached upon by rich people in Ludhiana district, was freed recently. Six-acre land worth about Rs 50 crore in Pathankot, too, is no longer under encroachment.He added that 2,300 acres, which colonisers wanted to develop in 15 semi-hilly villages on Chandigarh’s periphery, had been notified for 15 years in February.Dharamsot stated that at least two lakh saplings of sandalwood would be planted to help farmers prosper through crop diversification. At least 15,000 are ready to be planted, mainly in the Kandi area.

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