HYDERABAD: Stating that the time has come for both revenue and forest departments to come to the negotiating table to sort out land disputes, the Hyderabad High Court has directed both the departments to hold a joint meeting, identify the disputed lands and find a lasting solution to the problem within four months.
Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy was passing these orders recently in a writ petition filed in 2012 by M Susheela and others of Nizamabad district seeking directions to the respondent authorities not to interfere in their peaceful possession of the assigned agricultural lands at Sirikonda village of the district.
As for the case details, the petitioners were assigned one acre of land each along with several others by the revenue department.
However, the forest department has taken the stand that these lands form a part of Sirikonda reserve forest block.
As there was a dispute whether the land is part of reserve forest or not, the district collector was directed to get a joint survey held by involving the divisional forest officer of Kamareddy division, after issue of notice to the petitioners. Further, it was directed that the revenue department before cancelling the assignments, shall allot alternative land to the petitioners if it was found that the land assigned to them forms part of reserve forest. On such allotment, the petitioners shall vacate the lands in dispute assigned to them. On the contrary, if it was found that the lands assigned to them fall outside the reserve forest area, the forest department shall not interfere with their possession of the said land.
After perusing the material on record, the judge observed that “it has become a common feature in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh that the forest and revenue departments are at loggerheads in respect of several extents of lands. While the revenue department claims a particular land as non-forest land, the forest department takes a converse position. Sandwiched are the innocent citizens between these two departments.
This Court feels that it is high time that the revenue and forest departments sink their differences by holding joint surveys wherever it is necessary and resolve the disputes as soon as possible, lest the innocent citizens would suffer.”