Hyderabad: The forest department is worried that about 6.6 lakh acres of forest land in the state is in dispute. The land belongs to the forest department but is not entered in the revenue records in some places and there are no survey numbers for these lands.
Though the forest department has informed Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao that about 22 lakh acres of forest land has to be added to the revenue records, the new data says that its only 6.6 lakh acres.
Government forest land in Telangana covers 66.67 lakh acres. During an earlier survey by the revenue department about 53.77 lakh acres was verified, but it was noticed that 6.6 lakh acres was in dispute. According to the survey, 47.09 lakh acres of forest land was clear and not in dispute either with private individuals or the revenue department or any other. The forest department has now decided to verify the remaining 12.9 lakh acres that was not verified by the revenue department. The forest department is worried that there might be more disputed land in these unverified acres too.
The disputed forest land is high in the districts of Nagar Kurnool, Mahbubabad, Bhupalpally, Asifabad and Adilabad.
According to forest officials, lakhs of acres of forest land in these districts are not mentioned in the revenue records and some of the forest land is occupied by private individuals. It may be that the land was transferred to the forest department, but the revenue officers at that time might not have entered the details in their records.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) P.K. Jha has decided to clear this matter which has been pending for several years. He has identified about 25 issues to be sorted out with the revenue department and is preparing the guidelines.
Admitting that more than 6.6 lakh acres of forest land is in dispute, a senior official of the forest department told this newspaper on condition of anonymity, that “the issue is pending for many years and as the Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is very keen about developing the forests, that gave a boost to the department. The PCCF Mr Jha has identified several issues with the revenue department and is working on the guidelines. We are also worried that there might be some increase in the disputed lands after the remaining 12.9 lakh acres are verified. We hope the issues will be cleared soon.”