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according to a study commissioned by the Maharashtra division of the World Wide Fund for nature, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party have played a major role in encouraging large scale encroachment of the dense forests of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park during the past two years.
Esconet, a Pune-based organisation, which conducted the study says that these political parties have encouraged slum dwellers to encroach on forest land with the assurance that their huts would be regularised, if they are voted to power. According to the report, leaders and representatives of the these parties even promised regular water connections, electricity, telephones, toilets, ration shops in the encroached areas. "Falling prey to the political overtures, the civic authorities, police and the bureaucracy had bent over backwards to please their political masters," the report says.
The encroachments into forest land have devastated around 799 hectares. The land is severely degraded and the soil layer has been eroded, exposing to basalt layers.
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