Hyderabad: The Chief Minister directed Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to start accepting applications for Podu lands across the State from the third week of October and take steps to verify the details of the agricultural land at the field level based on the details mentioned in the applications. He wanted the latter to hold meetings with all the District Collectors and issue appropriate directions to them in this regard. The MLAs were asked to give appropriate suggestions, for effective implementation of the initiative and the Tribal Welfare officials were asked to join hands with the Forest officials, and play a key role in the protection of forest lands.
Forest Department will launch an action plan and invite applications from eligible tribals in third week of October to address the Podu lands issue in the State. As announced in the State Legislative Assembly recently, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao directed the officials to initiate necessary measures immediately in this regard. The land survey will be kickstarted in November based on information provided by the denizens
He asserted that after addressing the Podu lands issue, no further encroachment of forest lands will be tolerated in future and all measures will be taken to prevent forest land encroachments. He said the State government would not hesitate to take any drastic measures to protect the forests. He said an all-party meeting would be convened ahead of resolving the Podu lands issue and, if necessary, the leaders would be taken to the forest to personally witness the forest land encroachments. He instructed the officials to prepare guidelines for constituting forest conservation committees At a high-level meeting on Podu lands held at Pragathi Bhavan on Saturday, the Chief Minister stated that forest conservation was crucial for human survival and if neglected now, the future generations would be deprived of forests forever.
He pointed out that the measures taken by the Telangana government to conserve forests and increase greenery were yielding good results. “Biodiversity has increased considerably. The State has set an example for others in the country through the results achieved under Haritha Haram programme. The Haritha Nidhi (Green Fund) is also receiving good response. Under these circumstances, the Forest officials must pay more attention to protecting forests,” he said. He wanted efficient officials to be appointed in key roles to take stringent measures for conservation of forests, and promised complete support to them in this regard .
Chandrashekhar Rao reminded that the tribals love the forests and would not harm them as their life is entwined with the forests. He said the tribals only depend on the forest produce like honey, gum, firewood and others for their livelihood. The State government would continue to protect their Right to Life, he asserted. “The problem is with the outsiders who occupy forest lands, cut down trees and abuse forest resources. But destruction of forests for their greed, will not be tolerated. From the moment the problem of Podu lands is resolved, the State government will initiate tough measures for the protection of forest lands. The Forest officials will be responsible to ensure that there is no intrusion into the forest. No outsiders will be allowed inside the forest,” he made it clear.
After launching the forest land survey in November, the boundaries of government forest lands will be demarcated with geographical coordinates. The officials were directed to take strong protective measures like digging trenches and fencing as per the requirement. The State government will allocate the required budget, while the police would provide protection, if needed. “Farmers taking up the Podu cultivation will be shifted from the middle of the forest to the edge of the forests and they would be allocated necessary land. A certificate also would be issued providing rights on the land for crop cultivation. The government will also extend all facilities including drinking water, power supply and also Rythu Bandhu as well as Rythu Bima to them,” he added.
Asifabad MLA Aatram Sakku, Government Chief Advisor Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Special Chief Secretary for Forests Shanthi Kumari, Tribal Welfare Secretary Christina Z Chongthu, CMO Principal Secretary S Narsing Rao, CMO Secretaries Smita Sabharwal and Bhopal Reddy, CM OSD Priyanka Varghese, Telangana State Forest Academy Director Raja Rao, Telangana State Technology Services Managing Director Venkateshwara Rao, Nalgonda Collector Prashanth Jeevan Patil and others were present