Mahabubabad: The Forest Department has successfully reclaimed more than 600 hectares of forest land from land-grabbers over a period of one year, thanks to the unstinted support extended by District Collector VP Gautham. The land grabbers were converting forest land into agriculture land by felling the trees in the name of ‘Podu cultivation’.
Speaking to Telangana Today, District Forest Officer (DFO) Tirumala Ravi Kiran said: “500 hectares of encroachment was retrieved in Mahabubabad district by taking up staggered trenches. It’s hard to believe that large scale encroachment have been taking place deep inside the forest. This approach is being tried for the first time on this scale. It ensures immediate retrieval and also facilitates operation throughout the year unlike regular plantation since it doesn’t damage plantation. Further, it also helps in soil moisture conservation and improves natural growth.”
The DFO said they had also booked a case against a person who encroached upon about 100 acres of land at Bathulapalli village of Kothaguda mandal in the district, and produced him before a court which sent him to judicial remand on February 10. “We will take back the land soon,” he added.
It may be recalled that 160 hectares of forest land had been reclaimed at Pedda Yellapur village in Gangaram mandal from land grabbers. VP Gautham, who took charge as the District Collector in February last year, has been focusing on reclaiming forest land from encroachers and has asked the forest officials to serve notices on the illegal occupants.
According to official sources, nearly 1,400 hectares of forest land were illegally encroached upon by about 119 land-grabbers including 10 government employees. The forest lands are mainly in Gudur, Gangaram, Kothaguda and Bayyaram mandals in the district. Though the forest officials in the past asked the illegal occupants to vacate the lands, it had fallen on deaf ears since they allegedly enjoyed the support of local politicians.