Group to ‘examine the issues related to Lake’

The meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to decide the fate of the 7,586.14 acres in Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS), scheduled for Monday in Hyderabad, has been deferred without any indication of when it will be held next.

The Andhra Pradesh government constituted the group to “examine the issues related to Kolleru Lake”. The Ministers in the Cabinet sub-committee are S. Vijay Rama Raju (Forest), N. Raghuveera Reddy (Revenue), Kanna Lakshminarayana (Agriculture), P. Sudarshan Reddy (Irrigation), K. Parthasarathy (Secondary Education) and P. Viswarupa (Fisheries).

The GoM was presented with the dispute of 7,586.14 acres that had become a controversy, at its first meeting held in 2012 on December 19.

Locals dispute the 7,500 acres that was declared part of Contour +5 and feel it was wrongly included in the KWS. Local political leaders, including Eluru MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, demanded that the land be distributed to the poor. The Forest Department, however, remained firm saying that the land was within the +5 contour and was therefore part of the sanctuary.

The GoM at their first meeting wanted the advice of the Advocate General to be taken before the deletion of the disputed area from the KWS.

Meanwhile the different parties pursuing the issue seem to be losing interest in it. Only two ministers attended the second GoM meeting held on March 2. The Forest Minister, who is the convenor and host, and the Revenue Minister were the only Ministers that attended the meeting.

‘Not important enough’

The GoM meeting has been deferred indefinitely and the word in the Secretariat is that the issue is not anymore important enough to bring six ministers to attend it.

Former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who promised to reduce the size of the sanctuary from +5 contour to +3 contour, if elected, seems to have also forgotten Kolleru land and did not bring up the subject at all during his recent padayatra in Krishna and West Godavari districts. The Eluru MP too seems to have forgotten the issue after making some half-hearted efforts and statements on ‘re-encroaching’ KWS in some areas.

The MP is spending more time in New Delhi reportedly appeasing senior Congress leaders he rubbed on the wrong side during the no-confidence motion in Parliament, according to his detractors.