Encroachments stretching into the forest lands have become a major cause of concern for the forest department hoping to improve forest cover in Krishna district. Out of total 33.3 per cent of the normal forest area in the district, only 7.55 per cent of the land has thick forest cover.
Forest department said more than 16,000 hectares of land in the district is under illegal occupation including 12,000 hectares in Nuzivid range limits alone. The total forest land is 66,400 hectares. Villages like Kondapalli, Adavinekkalam, A Konduru, G Konduru and other parts of Krishna district boast about 50,000 acres of forest land.
Out of 1857 hectares of forest area in Kandrenipadu reserve forest of Musunur mandal in Nuzivid forest reserve, 1594 hectares of land is encroached upon,” said in-charge district forest officer P J Banerjee.
He said Nuzivid was ruled by zamindars for many decades and they used to donate or distribute lands to the people that eventually led to the human habitat in the forest lands. Legal battles claiming the ownership of several hundred acres land in Nuzivid are still continuing. About 45 per cent of the forest land in Nuzivid forest range is encroached.
However, the annual report-2012 prepared by the forest department of Andhra Pradesh claims that only 19 hectares in Krishna district is under encroachment. Meanwhile, encroachment of the forest land is also high in other districts like in Guntur, Prakasam and Khammam.
In Guntur district, as many as 1031.13 hectares of forest land has been encroached upon against the total of 155803 hectares and in the Prakasm district, 607.02 hectares of land was illegally occupied against the 186964 hectares forest land.
In Khammam, as many as 1928 hectare of forest land still remains occupied illegally against the total of 843694 hectare, according to the forest annual report 2012.
The forest officials also served notices to 1112 persons for illegal occupation of the forest land in Guntur district and collected Rs 70 lakh penalty from them, said DFO SK Salam.
In Prakasam district, as many 630 persons were served notices by the forest department.