Activists demand probe into shrinking and issuance of illegal pattas for forest lands in Warangal
Warangal Urban: Expressing concern over attempts to encroach forest lands spread over 8,000 acres in both the Dharmasagar and Elkathurthy mandals in the district, environment conservation activists and nature lovers have urged the State government to take immediate steps to protect the forest, which is the only forest block in Warangal Urban district.
A team of environmental activists including former District Forest Officer (DFO) K Purushotham, advocate Potlapally Veerabhadra Rao, who is also a known RTI crusader in erstwhile Warangal district, members of the Orugallu Wild Life Society (OWLS) and Vana Seva Society (VSS) inspected the forest land after learning that some people had illegally laid power lines and also set up transformer in the ‘forest land’ under near Mupparam village.
Speaking to Telangana Today, Purusotham alleged that some unscrupulous elements “with the support of black sheep in the forest and revenue departments” had got pattas ‘illegally’ for some chunks of the land, and demanded that the government machinery conduct a probe into the issue and reclaim the lands. “It is illegal for NPDCL to lay power lines in the forest area and set up transformer. The officials responsible for this activity in both the forest and electricity department must be suspended,” Purusotham said.
Meanwhile, Potlapally Veerabhadra Rao expressed concern over construction activity and illegal quarrying in the forest area and demanded that the government immediately declare the forest area as Reserve Forest (RF) under section 4 of the Forest Conservation Act. The activist alleged that the local revenue, as well as forest officials, were hand in glove with the people who were trying to encroach the land by issuing pattas illegally.
They also found fault with the officials for their reported attempts to declare only 3,900 acres of the forest land as the Reserve Forest against a total of 8,000 acres. Alleging that private people were given pattas in the middle of the forest, the team of activists appealed to officials to take steps to stop the construction of a temple in the forest land and pursue the matter in the court of law.
When contacted, Warangal Urban Collector Rajeev Gandhi Hanumanthu said he had convened a meeting with forest officials on Thursday and asked them to expedite the process to declare the forest areas as Reserve Forest to protect them from encroachments. Some people, however, have been in the possession of the lands for, he said, adding, “The forest officials are preparing the file to be submitted to higher officials at Hyderabad who will make the declaration. I am hopeful of some action in 10 to 15 days,” he added.
Stressing the need for the protection of the only forest area in Warangal Urban district, which is located about 25 km from Warangal city, Veerabhadra Rao said that by converting the forest block into reserve forest (RF), the rights to all activities like mining, hunting, grazing, etc., would be banned unless specific orders are issued otherwise. He also added that the government could develop it as the eco-tourism hub for the Warangal residents.
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