ANDHRA PRADESH

A shot at bringing forest back to life

People had cleared vast tracts encouraged by naxals

Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao

WARANGAL: Braving unfavourable conditions and inadequate logistical support, the Forest Department has embarked upon regenerating the 1,000 hectares of forest that was felled by the people last year.

Tribals and non-tribals went on a felling spree last year and occupied vast lands for agricultural purposes. Soon after the lifting of the ban on naxal groups by the State Government, the groups with a view to gain control over the masses, had encouraged them to occupy forest land.

Officials in a fix

Taking advantage, a majority of non-tribals engaged labour and felled vast tracts of forest in Pasra, Eturunagaram, Mulug, Tadvai and Bhupalpalli mandals of Warangal north divisions of the Forest Department.

Ever since, the department officials have been spending sleepless nights not only to prevent further damage to the forest, but also to regenerate the destroyed portions.

Lack of cooperation from the public, inadequate staff and danger from naxal groups are some of the problems facing the forest personnel.

Speaking to The Hindu , the Conservator of Forests, Md. Ilyas Rizvi, has said the department had initiated a series of steps to prevent the people from entering into the forest area, registering cases against those responsible for felling of forests and plantations. "We have uprooted large trunks and have taken up planting of high yielding variety of eucalyptus saplings with the help of Vana Samrakshana Samithis," he said.

`Informer' system

According to him, due to lack of communication and coordination with other departments, the damage was done last year. By the time, the department came to know of it, it was beyond control. However, to ensure that such incidents did not recur, the department now proposes to engage `informers' in villages.

They would be rewarded suitably for passing on any information regarding mass movement of people in the forest area.

Warangal district has 12,846 square km of land of which forest constitutes 3,713 square kilometers -- 28.9 per cent of the total area of the district.

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