KOTA (K)-ADILABAD: The forest range officer (FRO) Chole Anitha, 33, said “Incidents like Sarasala and attacks on forest staff are happening due to lack of clear state government’s policy on podu lands and the influence of big-time political leaders on the forest department.”
She further said that the government should come out with a clear policy on podu cultivation and issue pattas to the podu lands.
On June 30, Anitha suffered injuries in the attack carried out by the TRS leaders and local villagers led by the Koneru Krishna in Kagaznagar mandal in Kumarambheem Asifabad district.
Now, she is taking rest at her home in Kota-(K) village in Boath mandal in Adilabad. The state government has arranged for police security for Ms Anitha at her home.
Speaking to this correspondent, Ms Anitha said the staff working at ground level were becoming the victims in Podu lands issue and were facing the pressure from all sides.
She revealed, “I had received a threatening call from Krishna before the Sarasala incident for not working in their favour and strictly following the rules as far as forest land issues are concerned.”
She said the Koneru brothers ( Koneru Krishna and MLA Koneru Konappa) were ruling the Kagaznagar area like monarchs and harassing the officials who were not working in their favour. Furthermore, they were getting the strict officials posted in the Kagaznagar area, transferred within no time.
Ms Anitha also observed that the issue of pattas to the podu lands was messed up with many problems and questioned how could the officer working on the ground, take a decision on podu lands when there were encroachers, people who had recently started cultivating land along with old cultivators like the Adivasis.
Ms Anitha said that it was the BC communities that participated in large numbers in the attack on forest staff but very few adivasis were present at the scene of the offence.
Ms Anitha also observed that adivasis were cultivating and holding little forest land when compared to other communities at Sarasala.
Ms Anitha also said that the state government should take a clear policy decision as far as issuing pattas to the podu lands was concerned and also about podu cultivation as it had taken a decision and issued clear instructions to control wood smuggling that has been contained to a large extent in the last six months after the state government took serious note of it and announced a policy decision on it.
“Revenue officials had issued a number of pattas to land that did not exist and now patta holders were demanding the land and the officials had to show them that land.
“In some instances, the forest lands were not entered into the revenue records and revenue officials issued pattas to such lands and this resulted in the land dispute between the forest and revenue departments”, said Ms Anitha.
Meanwhile, villagers of Sarasala alleged that Ms Anitha had been rude to the villagers and had also used bad language while speaking to them. One of the villagers of Sarsala alleged, “Anitha had not even allowed the villagers to bring the wood from the forests to set up a pyre to cremate the body when a villager died.”
Chole Anitha did her MSC Chemistry from Koti Women’s College, Hyderabad and joined the forest department as FRO in 2013.
Anitha was also the officer who was behind the eviction of the Kolam families from the Kolam-Gondi village and had demolished their huts and shifted the Kolam families forcefully to the Vempalli forest timber depot on June 12.
Ms Anitha also said she was unwilling to continue as FRO of Kagaznagar due to political pressure and had told her higher-ups to transfer her elsewhere....