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Govt apathy costs livelihood of tribals

Govt apathy costs livelihood of tribals
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Govt apathy costs livelihood of tribals.There has been no solution yet to the issue of granting rights over forest land to Scheduled Tribes.Since...

Khammam: There has been no solution yet to the issue of granting rights over forest land to Scheduled Tribes.Since Neolithic times, ‘Podu’ is a practice for the primitive tribal groups (PTGs) for self-subsistence.They used to slash the trees for creating open spaces and burn them to use the ash as fertiliser.This practice, though not environment-friendly did not cause much loss as long as the population of the tribes was limited.

Growth in local population and the State’s policy on reservation of forested areas affected the tribals’ dependency on forest for their livelihood.Government’s predicament over tribals’ demand for grant of rights over ‘podu’ lands in their possession was understandable after there was an alarming drop in the forest cover in the united AP state to the tune of about 281 sq km. Protecting the forests and ensuring justice to tribes are like two sides of a coin.

Although the issue needs to be sympathetically considered and handled by providing viable alternatives through schemes like agro-forestry or national waste land development programmes to the tribals, it was often distorted that practice of ‘Podu’ is the main reason behind the depreciation of forest cover. But in reality, there was no effort by the government to resolve the issue by verifying the claims of thousands of tribals over Podu land.

Over the years, tribals have been demanding grant of rights over ‘podu’lands in their possession under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.The previous government led by the Congress had distributed pattas to some of the tribal people under the RoFR Act, but failed to give them the possession of the land due to the unresolved ownership dispute between the Forest and Revenue Departments.

Even the Telangana Minister for Forests Jogu Ramanna had admitted that no attempt was made in the undivided State to demarcate revenue and forest lands.Encroachments, especially by some non-tribals and non-locals have also become a headache for the officials. There are instances that a few non-locals, who eyed on rich laterite mines in the region, have come up with fake pattas claiming ownership of lands in Yellandu mandal.

“Instead of focusing on such encroachments, the government has started to flex its muscles to snatch the podu lands of the tribal people,” former MLA Gummadi Narsaiah said, criticising the forest officials for foisting false cases against Adivasis.CPI-ML New Democracy district secretary Potu Ranga Rao demanded that the government should effectively implement the Forest Rights Act and safeguard the rights of Adivasis over ‘podu lands’ under their possession for a long.

“There is no land for sons of the soil, but there is plenty available for multi-national companies and industries,” CPI (M) district secretary Pothineni Sudarshan Rao said, accusing the government of using coercive measures against Adivasis.In the name of improving forest cover under flagship of Haritha Haram programme, the government is snatching the podu lands being tilled by tribal people for decades.

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