In one year, the people of Warangal were able to raze to the ground 1,000 acres of forest land! This amazing achievement occured in the wake of the lifting of the ban on naxal groups by the Andhra Pradesh government. Tribals and non-tribals were instigated and encouraged to go on a felling spree and claim the land for agricultual purposes. However, the forest department has been on its toes to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, and reversing the damage. Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao reports in The Hindu:
Taking advantage, a majority of non-tribals engaged labour and felled vast tracts of forest in Pasra, Eturunagaram, Mulug, Tadvai and Bhupalpalli mandals of Warangal north divisions of the Forest Department.
Ever since, the department officials have been spending sleepless nights not only to prevent further damage to the forest, but also to regenerate the destroyed portions.
Lack of cooperation from the public, inadequate staff and danger from naxal groups are some of the problems facing the forest personnel.
Despite the difficult conditions the forest department officials are determined to bring back their forest land and ensure that suxh oversight will not recur in the future.
Speaking to The Hindu , the Conservator of Forests, Md. Ilyas Rizvi, has said the department had initiated a series of steps to prevent the people from entering into the forest area, registering cases against those responsible for felling of forests and plantations. “We have uprooted large trunks and have taken up planting of high yielding variety of eucalyptus saplings with the help of Vana Samrakshana Samithis,” he said.
However, to ensure that such incidents did not recur, the department now proposes to engage `informers’ in villages.
The damage has been done. But atleast there is hope for the future, as people will be better educated on their responsibilities and government officials will be better informed on their duties.
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