After tiger deaths, petrol bunk in tiger corridor under lens

Hyderabad: The death of two tigers in Komaram Bheem Asifabad district in the first week of January and the subsequent investigations and fixing of responsibility for lackadaisical work — by some officials of the department, who have since been suspended — also revealed that a petrol bunk was being constructed on forest land in the Penchikalpet range of Kagaznagar division.

The forest area forms a part of the tiger corridor area in the district, connecting the forests of Maharashtra and Telangana.

Sources said there was no joint inspection of the petrol bunk site despite the forest department asking for one, with local revenue authorities giving a no-objection certificate claiming that the land in question was ‘bandobast land’ and was part of revenue land.

A part of the site in Survey No. 342, listed in forest department records as ‘Kadamba extension 6’ (after the Kadamba forest beat), was occupied for the construction of the petrol pump, according to the sources.

While most of the bunk is in Survey No. 338, which is not forest land, part of land in Survey No. 342 was occupied and no joint survey was taken up before granting permissions, sources said.

The issue of a petrol bunk, reported to be affiliated to Indian Oil Corporation, coming up on forest land, came to the fore when senior forest officials began looking at the activities of field-level forest officials and staff.

It was found that the Penchikalpet forest range officer, who was reportedly instructed to have the structure demolished, did not take action on the front, and officials are now probing if this was deliberate. The under-construction bunk is believed to be promoted by a local municipal official, a ZPTC member and a businessperson backed by a former MLA.

The FRO was one among the four forest staffers suspended for neglecting their duties in the wake of the two tiger deaths.

It was learnt that the Komaram Bheem Asifabad district collector was informed not to give the final permissions for the petrol bunk until the land issue was resolved. Meanwhile, forest department officials maintained that part of the forest land was illegally occupied for constructing the bunk.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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