|TRIBALS TREK TO SAVE GODAVARI DELTA FORESTS|
|- C Lokeswara Rao - Times of India April 30, 1991|
|One of the common complaints about denudation is that it is carried out with the "protection" of government agencies like the forest department. At one level, the government winks at cutting of trees on a scale magnified several times over the number mentioned in permits. At another level, permits are issued in violation of forest department’s rules or in defiance of the spirit of conservation which ought to gride the department. It is to Sakti’s credit that it has documented such violations and anomalies extensively. Motivated people in many villages to report such vilations to prevent tree cutting in the first place and fought legal battles right up to the high court.
One of Sakti’s major campaigns was against a plywood unit which had been allotted 60,000 hectares of reserved forest at a rate of Rs.70 per cubic metre. The open market rate for mango trees, which accounted for 80 per cent of feelings by the unit, was Rs.1,500.
SAKTI generated over 300 complaints about trees that had been cut or marked for felling in violation of rules. Felling Rules and Silvicultural practices stipulated as follows. Only matured or dying trees were to be felled. Jeelugu (Caryota urens) palm, trees yielding minor forest produce like tamarind or cane brakes, creepers were not to be touched. A gap of 20 meters from a stream.Cutting a tree was not allowed if it would disturb the canopy. Complaints citing instances of violation of the above rules saved many trees. At one stage the high cour which lifted a stay obtained by Sakti stipulated that fruit trrees should not be cut.
Around this time the government of Andhra Pradesh revised the rate charged for trees allotted to the unit. The revision was contested in courts and cutting of trees has been stopped pending disposal of this litigation.