The likes of R. Srinivas Rao, the Forest Range Officer (FRO) of Indhanpalli range in Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR), are a rare species in the State. As many as 30 trees stand testimony to his steely resolve towards protection of the forest, which would otherwise have been stripped of greenery for creating a road diversion.
Braving immense political and official pressure, the gutsy forest officer saved several trees, thereby upholding the honour and dignity of his department. Not just that, he even demonstrated that damage to environment can be minimised if enough thought is given to the otherwise conventional idea of ‘development’.
The government has taken up the task of strengthening old bridges passing through KTR, mostly in Mancherial and Nirmal districts. It is alleged that the developmental work was taken up without due permission and a good number of trees were felled when new and large bridges until Jannaram from Luxettipet side were commissioned to create diversion from inside the forest.
Mr. Rao, who took over as FRO of Indhanpalli just six months ago, however, did not allow cutting of trees when R&B authorities wanted to create a diversion from the new bridge near the Anjaneya temple.
“I did not recommend felling of the 30 fully matured trees, 18 of which are teak, as it meant a lot of destruction just to create a diversion,” he says.
The not-so-busy Luxettipet-Nirmal road is 66 feet wide and the bridge needed to have a width of 10 metres. No tree was needed to be sacrificed for expanding the existing three-metre wide bridge, the FRO felt. “I wanted the R&B officials and the contractor to explore the possibility of a diversion without felling even a single tree. What I got instead of a plan was calls from various quarters to relent,” chuckles Mr. Rao.
Finally, the road authorities themselves relented and worked as per the plan shared by the forest officer. That included not just sparing the trees but setting up of the camp for the workforce away from the site of the bridge.
“I ensured that the camp was not set up at the place as wild animals criss-cross the area in the night. There would have been lot of disturbance in the forest due to movement of labourers,” the FRO signs off.