Guidelines on forest protection and podu cultivation on the anvil: Minister

The State Government has resolved to announce guidelines pertaining to protection of forest lands and the extent of land on which podu cultivation is likely to be permitted in a couple of days, Tribal Welfare Minister Satyavati Rathod said.

The Minister said Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao constituted a Cabinet sub-committee on the podu lands issue as part of efforts to evolve a permanent solution to the podu cultivation and the Cabinet panel had submitted its report to the government after holding deliberations with stakeholders.

“A major step towards the effective implementation of ROFR (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act has been taken. The government has focused on steps to benefit eligible tribals as well as other dependent on forests,” she said participating in a review meeting with senior officials on Tuesday.

She expressed concern that the previous government had not taken steps to resolve the issues in time bound manner. This could be seen from the manner in which forest pattas were given in Bayyaram in the past on the lands under the possession of Revenue department. Problems were also encountered as the officials concerned failed to demarcate the boundaries of the lands assigned in the past.

The Chief Minister however favoured steps to ensure that forests should not suffer degradation on account of podu cultivation and the interests of tribals should be protected at the same time. Forests were spread over as much as 66 lakh acres across the State according to records of which, pattas were given on three lakh acres. Podu cultivation was being practiced in six lakh acres and the Chief Minister was firm that forests were protected.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar held a meeting with senior officials to discuss the Podu lands issue to decide the modalities that should be adopted in the coming days. The meeting follows the assurance of the Chief Minister that applications would be received from eligible people from third week of this month.

The meeting discussed about the model of application process that should be followed, issues like forest boundaries that should be included in the applications and constitution of committees at various levels. It was proposed to conduct meetings with district collectors and forest officials in the coming days to evolve the guidelines.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 4:29:56 PM |

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