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March 23, 2018
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Govt. fails to protect forestersTimber smuggling continues in erstwhile Adilabad district

For all the might that the State government can muster, Telangana seems to be woefully inadequate in protection of environment, at least in the four districts which had earlier formed part of undivided Adilabad.

This is the opinion of forest officials who are a distraught lot following attacks on their colleagues and the unstoppable felling of trees in forest and raging of forest fires.

This is the fourth such incident since October 2017, and 18th since 1987 which accounted for killing of as many as eight forest officials in attacks by timber smugglers in erstwhile composite Adilabad district, including those by the Multani habitual offenders from Gundala, Keshavpatnam, Yellammaguda and Jogipet villages.

“The forest and forest personnel can be effectively protected only when we prevent criminals from felling trees rather than seize the felled logs and that can be done only by using force,” observed a forest official who was visibly upset over the latest in the attacks on forest personnel.

Prevention needed

An recap of the happenings between the night of February 28 and afternoon the next day will help assess the situation in Adilabad, Nirmal and Kumram Bheem Asifabad districts.

Six forest personnel in Pembi forest range of Nirmal district were assaulted by the Multani teak smugglers from Gundala village in Sirikonda mandal of Adilabad district, when they had tried to prevent the culprits from felling trees.

On March 1, three tractor loads of timber to be used as firewood in Ashram Schools were seen by visitors to Jodeghat in Kerameri mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. They accosted the tractors between Kopaguda forest plantation and Token Movvad.

Inquiries revealed that only one person smuggles firewood from the stretch of forest extending till Jodeghat and sells it to hostel wardens in Kerameri and Jainoor mandals for ₹ 5,000 to ₹ 7,000 per load of about 6 quintals.

Firewood in demand

“Using firewood works out much cheaper though it violates the standing instructions on use of LPG for cooking in hostels. It saves money for the hostel officials, especially those from the institutions which run close to forests,” pointed out the watchman of an Ashram School.

The third incident on March 1 was that of forest fires raging on either side of Seetagondi village about 13 km from Adilabad district headquarters town.

Though the forest officials had claimed that fires were being put out soon as they are getting satellite alerts, no one arrived to douse the one near the petrol bunk close to NH 44 for over an hour.