Environmentalist alleges bid to grab land

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court to protect forest and wildlife has in a letter asked for details regarding the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary border dispute from the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.

CEC Member Secretary M.K. Jiwarajka responded to a letter by environmental activist and former BSNL officer Allamsetti Satyanarayana complaining about the vested interests grabbing land in the sanctuary. He had based the complaint on the reports published in The Hindu giving details about pressure being exerted on revenue and forest officials to distribute notified land in the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.

The CEC was constituted by the Supreme Court on May 9, 2002 and presently comprises six members. Owing to tremendous pressure on forest resources and the unsustainable development leading to massive destruction of wildlife habitat, the Supreme Court intervened.

Mr. Satyanarayana, responding to the news items in The Hindu, wrote to the CEC about the efforts being made by vested interests in getting the land distributed to families living below the poverty line. Only two out of 260 acres that has been developed as a roosting area for the Gray Pelicans in Atapaka near Kaikaluru would be left with the Forest Department if the land was distributed, Mr. Satyanaryana said.

The Forest Department has already recognised the area in dispute as special “birding area”. Hundreds of birds of different species visit seasonally for breeding and feeding. Despite the hue and cry being raised by environmentalists, the politicians too are egging the locals to stake their claims. Eluru MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, on a recent visit to the area, said that he and his supporters would lay siege to Eluru if the land was not distributed.