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Illegal tree felling rampant in forests

By W.Chandrakanth

HYDERABAD, DEC. 12. The benign attitude of the State Government towards officials and villagers indulging in illegal felling of trees is leading to deforestation of large tracts of forest in Telangana districts.

Although stringent action has been recommended by the higher bureaucracy against the forest officials, the political connections of the latter is coming in the way of punishing them.

Take for example, Nagapur Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS) located in Mandapallli of Khanapur range in Adilabad district, which possesses under its jurisdiction a forest comprising predominantly teak along with associate species like Maddi, Chirmanu, Ippa, Anduga and Moduga.

Alleged connivance

An enumeration estimated the worth of trees to be cut at Rs. 12.66 lakhs. This stock was later transported to the Nagapur village depot. However, the alleged connivance of the VSS members with the officials resulted in the entire material being sold away to one, Mallaiah, for Rs. 4.50 lakhs after a VSS meeting on June 12 this year.

Similar instances have come to light in other parts of Adilabad where forest officials have allegedly joined hands with VSS members in not only spiriting away the forest yield but also in undermining the department's revenue by undervaluing the products.

An inspection of the Mundapalli VSS in July 7 revealed that material worth Rs. 9.02 lakhs was sold away for Rs. 3.5 lakhs because "there were few takers". In Dimmudirthi VSS, logs worth Rs. 5.6 lakhs was sold away for Rs. 2.65 lakhs.

YSR informed

These disturbing facts were found in the records of the inquiry officers.

In the name of legal tree felling, thousands of acres of forestland are being illegally felled with none to check the crime. An NGO and also the Nirmal MLA, A. Indrakaran Reddy, had brought this to the notice of the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, in June last.

An enquiry by the Chief Conservator of Forests, Vigilance, into the activities of the Samithis of Dimmadurti, Mandapalli, Narsapur, Khanapur, Rajura and Chendu Naik Tanda only strengthened the case against the officials.

Action ordered

Suspension of Khanapur forest range officer and Rajura forest section officer was ordered. But, the Nirmal DFO who was asked to be shifted to a non-focal position, was transferred to Warangal South Circle, where the forest is much more dense while the sub-divisional forest officer of Khanapur was left untouched.

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