BANDIPORA: Forest Department, Bandipora has refuted the news item carried by a local daily dated August 12, 2018 under the caption "With official patronage, hotelier grabs forest land in Bandipora's Athwatoo". The department, on the instructions of District Development Commissioner, Bandipora, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary conducted a joint inspection, comprising of a party from demarcation Division, Kashmir along with territorial staff of Forest department headed by Divisional Forest Officer, Bandipora conducted inspection of compartment number 98/Kh and 99/Kh of Forest division Bandipora in Athwatoo area for re verification of location of boundary pillars, constituting the forest demarcation line installed during 2016-17.
The team re-verified the demarcation line from boundary pillar Number 36 to 62 and all boundary pillars have been found installed at appropriate survey location/Geo Coordinates. However, it was found that B.P. Number 57 has got dislocated due to erosion/land slide. Though its exact location was found and concerned field staff was directed to install the same at its exact location.
All the structures constructed at Athwatoo viz. huts, fish pond and hotels fall outside the forest demarcation line of adjoining bran forest. The joint inspection team also found one under construction hotel outside demarcation line near B. P. number 56, 57, 58 & 59 of Bran forest. The status of land under occupation is property/Shamilaat as reported by revenue officials on spot.
A stretch of approach road to the above-mentioned hotel falls inside the demarcated forest of bran file from B.P. 54 to 57. The verification report, issued vide No. Dem/Estt/2018-19/747-49 dated: 16-08-2018 also reads that the allegations leveled against the forest department are baseless and fabricated.