NIZAMABAD: While the clashes between forest officials and locals from other districts are in the limelight — with the recent one reported from Bhadradri Kothagudem’s Timmampet village — land conflicts have been on the rise in the districts of Kamareddy and Nizamabad as well. In the recent past, locals have attacked forest officials in at least four incidents from the Banswada and Jukal mandals of Kamareddy district. However, the reasons remain unknown and even the police has not taken the issue seriously.
A forest official told Express that at least with the rise in incidents of violence, the higher authorities should clear the muddy waters by issuing pattas.
Another forest official said that under the reign of former Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajasekhar Reddy, pattas were sanctioned to nearly 825 acres of forest lands in Kamareddy alone. The exercise was also done in Nizamabad as well. But with the present government delaying the sanction of pattas, there is no official clarity about the ownership of a given piece of land. Locals allege that despite living on a piece of land for over three decades, officials are telling them that the land is a property of the forest department. In the recently held zilla parishad (ZP) meeting, when the matter was brought up on priority, members reportedly objected to forest officials obstructing farmers from cultivating fields.
On the other hand, officials want the immediate issuance of pattas by the government so they can separate encroachers from legitimate cultivators. In the absence of pattas officials cannot question the locals and if the former try to dismiss their arguments, clashes ensue, opines another forest official. Officials further allege that the public is further provoked by local elected representatives to the extent of instigating violence, for their own political benefits.
Meanwhile, the only feasible solution to the sensitive issue seems to be a policy-level intervention by the State government, another forest official tells Express. At present, there are nearly 20,000 acres of encroached forest lands in Kamareddy and Nizamabad districts together.
The forest lands are under the jurisdiction of both the State and Central governments, which further complicates the matter, says another official.