Ministers using idols to grab land in Telangana

Hyderabad: Violating the Forest Conservation Act, idols have been installed on reserved forest land by politicians in Anantagiri, which is about 70 km away from Hyderabad.

A senior forest officer, on the condition of anonymity, said: “A 10-foot tall Nandi idol has been placed near a temple that has been there since 1955. It was not in the limelight until this idol was installed. This is against the Forest Conservation Act. After this, others have started installing idols. This trend will continue to grow if not checked.”

As per a report by DC, Vikakarabad legislator B. Sanjeeva Rao, Zilla Parishad chairperson Sunitha Mahender Reddy and others had installed the idol on Monday.

“The idol was installed when the home minister was scheduled to visit Vikarabad, so all the officers were on protocol duty. Despite repeated pleas, they refused to budge. They have ordered people to stay on guard near the idol and these people say they will demolish our office if we touch the idol,” the officer added.

Environmentalist Rajeev M. said, “Soon people will start painting stones and claiming it to be a place of devotion. More crowds will gather and eventually the temple will take up space and claim to not be a part of the reserved forest. Soon, the temple will be legalised.”

Forest officers say district officials were busy and senior officials were under pressure not to speak out against the idol installation.

“Political backing has taken this encroachment to another level,” says one forest official.
Mr Sanjeeva Rao said, “I have no knowledge of the legalities involved. I just attended the programme and took part in the puja after the idol installation.”

Forest officers of Vikarabad are in a tough spot with religious sensibilities being offended, but with 368 acres of Anantagiri forest land encroached on out of 3178 acres, they cannot turn a blind eye to the offence.