Forest staff, farmers are at odds over podu

Forest lands that were given pattas under the Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 have also been recovered
Khammam: The farmers and forest officials are at loggerheads over the podu cultivation in the district. Forest lands that were given pattas under the Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 have also been recovered. For that, the forest officials placed 30 earth-moving machines and digging trenches to mark out the forest lands. Base camps with the forest guards were also set up in various places and checking on the farmers’ activities.
As per the details, about four lakh acres of forest lands are being used for podu cultivation by tribals and others. The government has given pattas to the extent of 70,000 acres in it.
Nunna Nageswara Rao, a farmer leader said that the forest officials are not allowing the 5,000 farmers in various villages to cultivate their lands in forests which were given pattas under the Forest Dwellers Act.
War-like scenes were witnessed in Karepalli, Yellandu, Tekulapalli, Bayyaram, Garla, Mulakalapalli, Dammapet, Aswaraopet and Chand-rogonda mandals. About 24 cases have been filed against these farmers and ploughs and tractors belonging to the farmers are being seized when they go to till the land. The farmers, who have been cultivating the land for the decades are unable to till their lands due to the resistance from the forest department.
A forest official said, “We are strictly abiding by the Forest Regulation Act and we are making efforts to prevent the entry of other persons in the reserve forests. We will continue this to protect the forest.”
The farmers took out a massive rally on Monday and submitted a memorandum to the government requesting to allow them to cultivate their patta lands. Meanwhile, the forest officials plan to plant saplings in these lands under Haritha Haram. Three crore saplings are being cultivated in various nurseries in the district for the programme.
( Source : deccan chronicle )
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