Forest staff, tribals clash: 20 injured

Forest staff, tribals clash: 20 injured
Highlights

The issue of evacuating tribals from their natural habitats in the name of State government’s flagship programme ‘Haritha Haram’ for improving forest cover is snowballing into a major controversy in Khammam district. On Monday, a warlike situation prevailed at a forest location in Chandrugonda mandal of Khammam district, about 300 km from the State capital Hyderabad,

Khammam: The issue of evacuating tribals from their natural habitats in the name of State government’s flagship programme ‘Haritha Haram’ for improving forest cover is snowballing into a major controversy in Khammam district. On Monday, a warlike situation prevailed at a forest location in Chandrugonda mandal of Khammam district, about 300 km from the State capital Hyderabad, when forest officials tried to demarcate the podu land leading to a clash with the tribals in which 20 persons were injured.

The forest officials faced a stiff resistance from the tribals of Marrigudem village when they approached the podu lands to demarcate and dig trench o take up plantation as part of Harita Haaram programme. Contending that they have been in possession of podu lands for the last 20 years, the tribals obstructed the forest officials from demarcating their land. An altercation ensued between the villagers and the forest officials.

A tribal farmer clashes with a forest official in Chandrugonda mandal of Khammam district on Monday

The impasse continued for a while before the forest officials launched an offensive by wielding their lathis against the tribals not sparing the women and old-age people. Infuriated by this, the tribals too attacked the officials, sources said. According to sources, around 400 tribal families have been eking out their livelihood by cultivating about 1,000 acres in the village. Knowing the incident, the Chandrugonda police swung into action and had the crowds dispersed.

Later, the villagers and forest officials lodged complaints with the police against each other. Inspector Mallaiah Swamy and Sub-Inspector Ravinder, who took stock of the situation, are investigating. Speaking to The Hans India, the CPI-ML New Democracy Khammam district secretary Potu Ranga Rao alleged that the government is creating a warlike situation in the Dandakaranya. “It was an inhumane act on part of the forest officials to launch an offensive against the Adivasis in the district,” Mr Rao said, demanding that the government conduct a survey and issue pattas to the tribals.

New Democracy leaders Potu Ranga Rao and former MLA Gummadi Narsaiah, accompanied by CPM district secretary P Sudarshan Rao will visit Marrigudem village on Tuesday. The leaders of all the Left Parties will soon launch an agitation against the ongoing evacuation of tribals from their habitats, it’s learnt.

Meanwhile, at Gubbagurthi forest area under Tummalapalli beat in Konijerla mandal, around 250 podu cultivators led by CPI national executive member K Narayana obstructed the forest officials when the latter tried to demarcate the podu lands. Narayana forced the officials to pull out the proclainer that was engaged to dig a trench separating the forest land from the revenue land. He warned the officials of dire consequences if they try to evacuate the tribals from their podu land on which they were cultivating for years. Left with no option, the forest officials made their way out from the place.

By: Adepu Mahender

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