Senior forest official objects to podu pattas, gets transferred

Update: 2023-03-11 18:30 GMT
DFO Mulugu, PCCF R.M. Dobriyal said "the shifting orders were in the works for some time and had nothing to do with podu pattas". (Photo: Twitter)

Hyderabad: The determination of the state government to issue pattas for podu land and an apparent decision to brook no dissent on this issue, has reportedly claimed its first victim with the summary transfer of a senior forest department officer from a district to Aranya Bhavan, the department’s headquarters in the city.

While this is the first such reported development that sources say is related to the podu patta issue, there are indications that the government has also lost patience with forest officials cracking down on those illegally occupying forest land and has sent such officials packing from their postings.

Sources said that the Mulugu district forest officer (DFO), who insisted that his objections to issue of podu pattas to ineligible applicants be recorded in the minutes of the district level committee (DLC) meeting, was transferred on Friday. This official has been ordered to report to the headquarters and to the office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, head of forest force (PCCF)).

“This is extremely demoralising, officials being targeted for doing their jobs,” sources in the department said.

Meanwhile, they said that in the run up to, and during the DLC, and sub-divisional level meetings, all district, and divisional forest officials received oral instructions from senior government officials against creating difficulties for approving applications for podu lands, irrespective of whether such a claim was valid or illegal as per the Recognition of the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

Incidentally, several officials had previously confirmed this development to Deccan Chronicle.

Asked about the transfer of DFO Mulugu, PCCF R.M. Dobriyal said the shifting orders were in the works for some time and had nothing to do with podu pattas.

While Friday’s transfer is said to have been punishment for the official who insisted that his views on the applications be recorded in the minutes of the meetings, earlier in February, another DFO from a district close to Hyderabad was transferred, ostensibly because he mounted a clean-up operation against squatters who illegally occupied around 200 acres of forest land.

“Despite such pressures, several officials have refused to sign on podu papers that forced the department to seek their scanned signatures to be printed on the promised podu pattas,” an official said. short headline

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