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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2011

CHAPTER 3 - Evolution of Forest Policy

Summary

For a long time, prior to the colonial period, forests had no commercial value to the rulers and the forest produce was predominantly consumed by the forest-dwellers and the peasants. Traditionally forests were conceived as an unproductive resource and the people living nearby the forests were allowed by the states to exercise their traditional customary rights. The Hyderabad State had also not shown any interest to conserve the forest resources till the middle of the nineteenth century. No forest policy was initiated when the Asaf Jahi rulers commenced to govern the Hyderabad State, nor it was realized as elsewhere in India that such a policy was considered necessary. With the exception of a few trees used for commercial purposes such as teak, the rural communities had free access to the forests. Forests were seen largely as an obstacle to the spread of cultivation rather than a valuable resource. Like their Mughals predecessors, the Asaf Jahi rulers also tried to push back the forest areas and extended the area under cultivation. The success of land revenue policy of the State was often measured in terms of extending the agrarian frontier.

As a result of this agricultural expansion during the first half of the nineteenth century, the forest areas of Warangal, Adilabad and Karimnagar districts situated within the Godavari basin, had been repeatedly scratched up and excised under ijaras, banjars and pattas.