MALKANGIRI: A nursery in the remote Kulabeda village under Mathili forest range of the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district was set on fire allegedly by Maoists on Sunday night.
Sources said a group of red rebels raided the nursery, destroyed the saplings by setting them on fire in protest against the Forest department’s initiative to go for massive plantation on the outskirts of the village.
Confirming the incident, Malkangiri divisional forest officer (DFO) Pradeep Mirase said saplings worth around Rs 3 lakh have been destroyed in the fire.
A letter left on the spot by Boipariguda area committee of the CPI (Maoist) stated that the ultras destroyed the nursery opposing the proposed plantation on forest land.
“We had planned to carry out a plantation drive on the degraded land in reserve and protected forest area under Ama Jungle Yojana by Vana Suraksha Samitis comprising local villagers. Though the drive was not started, pitting was underway. The villagers never opposed the plantation and always extended their support for the project,” Mirase said.
The DFO further informed that Mathili forest range officer was asked to visit the spot and take stock of the situation.
Though Malkangiri SP Rishikesh D Khilari confirmed the incident, he said, the letter doesn’t seem to be written by Maoists.
“We suspect it to be a mischief of some villagers. However, we are investigating into the incident,” Khilari added