Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Secunderabad research team has completed its first phase of geographic land suitability study to set up a long-range missile launch facility.

Land marking of 321 acres alienated in Nagayalanka mandal in Krishna Delta has been completed, revenue officials said. In August 2011, State Forest and Revenue Authorities had alienated 321 acres in Sorlagondi Reserve Forest in Nagayalanka mandal and recommended the site for DRDO’s proposal for construction of the Rs.1,000-crore project.

Director-General of DRDO, V. K. Saraswat, confirmed the proposal for the missile launch facility in Krishna District in November 2012. Barely three months later, a four-member research team from DRDO Secunderabad has completed its basic land survey last week.

“The survey was to mark the land based on survey numbers, the nature of the land and mangroves as well as salt ponds, was completed by March 31. Our staff members accompanied the team to show the exact location of the land boundaries,” Nagayalanka tahsildar D. Chandra Sekhar told The Hindu.

“The survey was conducted in the second and third week of March. The revenue survey numbers 636 and 674 cover the proposed site,” he added. The exact proposed land for the project is geographically a mix of Reserve Forest land, Krishna river delta where shrimp cultivation is also active.

Speaking to The Hindu, Eluru Divisional Forest Officer for Wildlife Management G.P. Anand said, “Much of the proposed 321 acres of land comes under Sorlagondi Reserve Forest and some part is common forest area comprising mangroves and fish ponds. The DRDO authorities had asked us to alienate the land.”

However, responding to a swift move of the project proponents, local fisherfolk are expressing their concern over the direct impact on their livelihood. The Marine Products Export Development Authorities have allowed the local fisherfolk to develop the forest land into fish ponds under shrimp cultivation and many ponds fall under the proposed project area.