KARACHI- A petition seeking action against the forest authorities for illegally allotting forest land for sugarcane cultivation has been filed in the Sindh High Court.

A division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) headed by Justice Irfan Saddat Khan issued notices to the respondents Sindh chief secretary, secretary forest department, district forest officer Thatta and SSP Thatta to reply to the petition.

The petitioners, Muhammad Hashim Magsi, Ibrahim Magsi and Muhammad Moosa Jakhro submitted that the forest department under the Agro Forest Lease Policy, 2010 had allotted them and other poor villagers’ forestland in Khadi & Penah forest of District Thatta and Sujawal. They have been residing there for decades.

The residents claimed that 3,390 acres of forestland in Thatta and Sujawal districts have been illegally allotted to influential persons for sugarcane cultivation by forest department officials.  

They said that forest department officials had malicious intentions and were controlled by the sugar industry. The forest officers visited the forestland, allowed the construction of camp offices and asked the residents to vacate the forestland or face dire consequences. They added that the reserved forest is meant for bringing maximum land area under tree cover for controlling pollution and saving biodiversity.

The petitioners represented by Advocate Ghulam Haider Sheikh said this is in violation of the provision of Section 27 of Sindh Forest Act, 1927. They requested the court to declare the allotment of the reserved forest land for sugarcane cultivation as illegal and order punitive action against respondent, forest department, for indulging in illegal activities.