Nagpur: The Centre denotified 86,409 hectares of Zudpi jungle today, after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan took it up with Union Forest and Environment Minister Veerappa Moily.
Accompanied by Union Minister for Heavy Industries Praful Patel and Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar, as well as Ramtek MP Mukul Wasnik, the Maharashtra CM had a marathon meeting with Moily in the morning in Delhi and the Centre denotified 86,409 hectares of land, which is mostly in Nagpur division.
The denotified land includes 27,507 hectares which has been encroached upon, 26,672 hectares of land already used for activities other than forestry and 32,229 hectares of fragmented land (below three hectares).
Flanked by Patel, Muttemwar and Wasnik, the Maharashtra CM told a crowded press conference that after denotification, Zudpi jungle land can be used for public purposes including irrigation, schools, roads or as public places.
The forest cover of Vidarbha would also increase, since 92,116 hectares of Zudpi jungle would be notified as a forest reserve and it would be accepted for compensatory afforestation in lieu of diversion of forest land for various projects. The cost of afforestation would be made available by project agencies, Chavan said.
The denotified area was recorded as "Zudpi jungle" in revenue department records. Due to a A Supreme Court order in 1995, these areas attracted provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, which made central government permission necessary for activities other than forestry.
Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam, Forest Department officials and Vidarbha`s elected representatives, followed up the matter with the Centre, after which their efforts bore fruits today, a delighted Chavan said.