Move to lease cashew crop in Prathipadu tiger habitat dropped as locals attack bidder

March 07, 2023 07:07 pm | Updated 07:07 pm IST - YELESWARAM (KAKINADA)

Angry local communities, including Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS) members, allegedly assaulted a bidder during the bidding process for a one-year lease over the cashew crop in over 130 acres of forest land under the Yeleswaram Forest Range (YFR) in Kakinada district on Tuesday. The bidding was conducted under the aegis of District Forest Officer I.K.V. Raju at Vajrakutam village in the YFR. 

Over the past year, a lone tiger was stranded for many months and was sighted repeatedly in the YFR along the Polavaram irrigation canal. Every attempt to tranquilise the big cat has failed. 

The Forest Department had invited tenders from prospective bidders to lease out the 7,800 cashew plantations spread over 130 hectares for a single yield that comes in the summer of 2023. The plantations are surrounded by the gram panchayats of Vajrakutam, Kathipudi, and Nellipudi in the YFR.

On March 7, the bidder, identified as Sakuru Nageswara Rao, was allegedly attacked by the local communities as he turned up to participate in the bidding. He received minor injuries. Later, the locals attempted to gain entry into the Forest Range Office following a heated argument with the officials for leasing out the cashew crop in the forest.

The local communities have been opposing leasing out the cashew plantations in the forest, reiterating that they depend on the forest for alternative livelihood options.

Mr. Raju said that the department had cancelled the tender process as the bid quoted by the three bidders was less than the basic bidding price. The maximum bid quoted in the March 7 bid was ₹1 lakh.  

“Till March, we called for three tenders for the season 2023. However, we did not receive any prospective bidder in all three tenders”, added Mr. Raju. Until the lease process is done, the local communities could collect the cashew yield from the forest, he said.

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