Villagers accuse forest dept of occupying land

Stage protest against evacuation notices issued by K-P forest department

Yawar Hayat July 29, 2022


Residents of Upper Khanpur from Pir Sohawa to Makhniyal and other areas staged a protest demonstration outside the Haripur deputy commissioner’s office against the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Forest Department for what they said issuing notices for evacuation of land.

The protesters led by PTI leader Yusuf Ayub informed the deputy commissioner about their concerns over the notices and alleged harassment by forest officials for evacuating the land on which they have houses built almost 50 years ago. The deputy commissioner assured the protesters of justice.

A large number of locals also chanted slogans against the forest department.

Social activist Fayyaz Mughal, who hailed from Makhniyal, told the media that the forest department was planning to demolish the houses of locals that were built 50 years ago.

He alleged that the forest department has hatched a plan to take control of their centuries-old ancestral lands and people have been issued notices claiming that the land within the boundaries of the Guzara Forest Range is owned by the forest department.

He said that a few days ago, forest department officials also pulled down protective barbed wires erected by the locals around their lands and the forest department has installed boards in several places.

He said that the forest department was asking the locals to vacate 200 feet of land on both sides of roads leading to various villages. He asked under which law the forest department wanted to occupy 200 feet of space on both sides of the roads. He said that residents of several villages will be affected by the forest department's action.

The social activist said that the forest department's notices have caused uneasiness and anger among the locals. He said that the villagers were already in a state of distress due to the alleged treatment of the Galyat Development Authority (GDA). He said that whenever citizens build their houses, GDA officials arrive to harass them. In order to tease the locals, he alleged, the GDA officials demand documents such as NOCs, building plans and other irrelevant documents.

On the other hand, former provincial minister Raja Faisal Zaman alleged that the K-P government that after occupying and converting the Khanpur mountain into a crushing zone, it was now trying to deprive the locals of their lands. He alleged that the K-P government, through the forest department, will grab 200 feet of land on both sides of roads at throwaway prices by imposing section 4 and later this land will be commercialised by the land mafia and sold to investors for millions of rupees.

He said that with the nexus of GDA and the forest department, preparations have been completed for taking control of lands of the poor people in three union councils of the upper Khanpur area bordering Islamabad. He said that was why the forest department has started issuing notices to the locals. He said that being the nearest area to the federal capital territory, the value of this area has increased and it has become an opportune place for big investors and property dealers.

The locals alleged that the GDA along with the forest department has completed their homework to grab 200 feet of land on both sides of roads, which is a people-owned area, and with this, many locals will be deprived of their own homes and land.

They said that the people of Upper Khanpur have been protesting against the occupation but no one was listening to their voice. They said that the GDA has made the lives of the locals miserable. They said that despite being aware of the issue, the PTI leadership was not showing any interest to solve the problem.

PTI's former MNA Dr Raja Amir Zaman also said that the move of the forest department and the GDA was wrong and illegal and called it a conspiracy. He said that, with this move, the peaceful atmosphere of the area has been disturbed.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2022.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ