Conduct digital survey to protect forests: PM

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday directed the authorities concerned to conduct a digital survey immediately about the latest situation of all the forests across the country to take effective steps to protect the forests.

She gave the directive while chairing the Cabinet meeting joining virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban. Other cabinet members were present at the Cabinet division at the Bangladesh Secretariat.

“The Prime Minister instructed to conduct a digital survey immediately over all the forests, maintaining coordination among the Land Ministry and the Environment and Forest Ministry as well as the Deputy Commissioners concerned,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters after the meeting.

He said the Primer stressed the need for taking measures on completion of the digital survey for permanent settlement of the people who are now living inside the forests.

The Cabinet Secretary said the Prime Minister also directed the authorities concerned to go for reforestation and to engage the local people in it, sharing the tree ownership with them.

If the local people can be engaged in reforestation in the forest lands, they would not damage the forests anymore, she said.

Many people living in different forest areas, including Modubangarh of Tangail, Garo hills of Sherpur, Chittagong Hill tracts and the Sundarbans are badly suffering due to a huge forest related case, said Anwarul, adding that even a single person is facing 40-50 legal suits.

About the cases, the Prime Minister gave a clear instruction to review the cases and withdraw immediately the cases with having no logical ground in a bid to give the people relief.

She also asked to conduct a campaign so that the people would not be involved in such cases anymore.

The Cabinet in principle approved the draft of Attia Forest (Reservation) Act 2021 to protect the Attia forest on 45000-46000 acres of lands (in Dhaka and Tangail districts).

The proposed law will replace the Attia Forest (Protection) Ordinance 1982,” said the Cabinet Secretary, adding that the Attia forest has first been declared a reserved forest through a law in the 1920s.

According to the law, damaging the forest is non-bailable offence, he said.