Nearly 250 teak trees felled in forest near Tapalpur
Forest staff find it difficult to check felling without help of stakeholders
HYDERABAD: The State government has decided to act tough against felling of trees by villagers who believe they can lay claim to land by clearing forest under provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
Though the legislation which is commonly known as Tribal Rights Act is clear about tribals in possession of forest land till December 13, 2005, being conferred rights to the land, village communities have resorted to felling of trees in a big way in the hope of claiming the land. The felling has assumed alarming proportions since forest rights committees surveyed the land for distribution.
About 250 trees, mostly teak, were felled in thick forest near Tapalpur village of Kawal wildlife sanctuary in Adilabad district in the early hours of June 19. An area of 93.5 hectares near Tapalpur and five adjoining villages was constantly devastated by villagers in the last one year. As many as 2,310 trees were felled during the period, said the local Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) A. Kishan.
Forest officials maintained that attempts to encroach forest land by cutting trees took place in over 1,100 hectares across Adilabad district in a single year.
About 900 persons were arrested in 180 cases. They said, the villagers were instigated by the Left parties which have launched land struggles. After the incident, the government held a series of meetings at Tapalpur involving students from schools and colleges.Mr. Kishan noted in his minutes, after another meeting at Tapalpur the next day, that the situation was “very alarming” and it was not possible for forest staff to check felling of trees in Kawal wildlife sanctuary without the help of stakeholders. It was against this background that Special Chief Secretary (Forest) Janaki R. Kondapi met Principal Chief Conservator of Forest K.S. Rao and Tribal Welfare Secretary V. Nagi Reddy on Monday to devise means to send a strong message to people living in forest areas that rights on land did not accrue for fresh encroachments.