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Encroachments threaten Bhawal National Forest
Bhawal National Park is threatened by encroachments.The Department of Forest could not provide the exact area of the 12,409-acre national park that had been lost to grabbers since it was established in 1974, but said efforts were on to recover encroached areas.
Continuous encroachments for human settlements as well as for setting up industries were identified as the main sources of threats to the national park, Dhaka divisional wildlife management and nature conservation officer ASM Jahir Uddin Akon told New Age.
Splitting the Bhawal Forest Range, into hundreds of parts during the Revised Survey, popularly called RS, done in 1956, made it easy for the encroachers to grab huge areas.
Bhawal Forest Range was in 1974 named Bhawal National Park.
Jahir said that the Department of Forest was making efforts to recover the national park’s land as shown by the Cadastral Survey Record, better known as CS Record prepared following survey done from 1889 to 1940.
Forest officials said that grabbers were using an unknown but huge area of the national park to build homes, industries, resorts, mosques and clubs.
In 2017-18, forest officials said that the DoF recovered 109.07 acres of forest from the grabbers including 71.55 acres on which stood illegal residences, clubs, mosques and madrassahs.
In the same fiscal, the DoF recovered 37.52 acres of forest land on which stood 37 illegal industries and tourist resorts.
Jahir said that local influential people helped construction of makeshift cottages for use by industry workers as residential accommodations inside the forest.
He added that local influential people also illegally built mosques, madrassahs and orphanages inside the forest.
It’s not uncommon to see illegal clubs inside the forest.
Gazipur deputy commissioner Dewan M Humaiun Kabir told New Age that the district administration would gradually relocate the mosques and madrassahs from the national park.
The district administration and the forest department jointly demarcated the recovered forest lands for reforestation after fixing concrete demarcation pillars.
In fiscal 2017-18 , around 83,000 saplings of 21 indigenous tree species were planted under the reforestation project, Jahir said.
Among the planted species were gamary, bahera, haritoki, hijal, dakijam, chalta, amloki, olive and amra.