Hyderabad: Landless, non-tribal farmers engaged in shifting cultivation inside Telangana’s forests will be moved to peripheral areas by the state government. The move was done to seemingly combat deforestation and in connection with the same, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has asked officials to prepare guidelines to appoint Forest Protection Committees.
As reported by The Indian Express, several MLA’s including Kumarum Bheem-Asifabad MLA Athram Sakku raised concerns about cultivation taking place in the middle of forests which could gravely affect the environment and wildlife. Sakku remarked to The Indian Express that “During a meeting with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, we sought stringent measures to be taken to stop the exploitation of forests and better protection… The CM has directed officials to launch an action plan from October third week to settle the podu lands issue in the state.”
This assurance was further verified by Forest Minister A Indrakaran Reddy who said farmers cultivating in the middle of the forest would shift to the peripheral land and will also be accorded ownership certificates, power supply and water, besides being brought under welfare schemes.
Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar will directly accept complaints and applications on podu (shifting cultivation) lands in forests. Officials will conduct a survey of the lands in question and initiate action. A survey of forests in the state will begin in November, and boundaries will be fixed with coordinates.
Speaking about the issue at hand, the chief minister remarked that “The living culture of the forest dwellers is intermingled with the forests. They treat the forests as dear as their own lives and hence will refrain from harming it. The government will protect their livelihood and birthright. The problem is all about those who come from outside, encroach the forestlands, destroy the forest wealth and misuse the resources. We will not allow such elements to plunder the forest wealth and destroy the forests. Once the podu land issue is resolved, the government will launch new measures to protect the forest land.”