The Uttarakhand government has decided to use Google Earth to find out the exact expansion of agricultural land in core forest areas.
Concerned over reports about expansion of agricultural and habitation area into forest land, the state government has asked the forest department to prepare digitised map of the habitation area of Goth Khatta land.
The Goth Khatta land, mainly in the states East Tarai Forest Division, was used as a grazing camp by traditional farmers. However, this land does not have the status of revenue village. As per the government records, there are 46 Goth Khatta lands spread over 312 hectares in Kumaon.
If we display the latest position of agriculture and habitation land in the forest area, we would be able to draw a comparison between the historical imagery and the present position. Google Earth provides the facility of historical imagery up to year 2003, said senior ISF officer Manoj Chandran, posted as additional secretary in the states forest department.
Digitised mapping of Goth Khatta land would help the forest department to find out the exact demarcation line. It would now be easy to detect any fresh encroachment in future, a source said, adding that the use of Google Earth also enables the government to trace forest departments erring officers. It would also ensure action against forest departments officers if they remain silent on the encroachment.