Girijans allege land grabbing

Girijans allege land grabbing
Highlights

The girijans of Kasturinagaram poured out their sad story when this reporter met them. According to them, the thanda is far away from agency area without proper roads, water facility etc.

Mahabubabad: The 16-year-long sweat and toil of 20 families was reduced to ashes. The girijans of Kasturinagaram thanda in Bayyaram mandal remained silent spectators when their hard work of several years was snatched by government officials in the name of Haritha Haram.

The girijans of Kasturinagaram poured out their sad story when this reporter met them. According to them, the thanda is far away from agency area without proper roads, water facility etc.

The girijans put all their efforts day and night since 2000 and brought about 100 acres of forest land suitable for agriculture within six years. Revenue officials took a kind heart and gave them pahanis and banks extended loans to them on these pahanis. Cases were filed on these farmers as per the Forest Act. Even then they were able to continue their farming activities.

But the trouble started with the government’s flagship programme ‘Haritha Haram’. With the help of Google pictures, the forest officials found out that these lands, being cultivated by Kasturinagaram thanda people, are government lands. And they dropped a bomb on the girijans six months ago that they will confiscate the land.

The girijan families pleaded the forest officials not to snatch their only livelihood, which they earned after years of hard work. But the officials quoting ‘duty’ took over 40 to 50 hectares of land from the girijans and started rearing saplings under Haritha Haram programme.

In fact, the then Congress government during 2004 issued pattas in recognition of Forest Rights Act, which provides the girijans a right over the land they have been cultivating for a long. Though the Kasturinagaram thanda girijans has been cultivating the lands by then, they were deprived of pattas due to lack of awareness.

Now the girijans have been making rounds to the revenue department offices and resorted to the court with all the evidences they have.
A tribal, Lunavath Ali told The Hans India that they have worked on the land since 2004 to make it fit for cultivation. ‘Now officers snatched away my four acres land saying that this land doesn’t belongs to me.

We have reduced to farm labourers.’ She lamented ‘There is no land to bury me after my death.’ She requested the government to do justice to them.

Another tribal Banoth Singh said, it was true that we tilled forest lands. ‘Along with us, farmers and girijans of nearby villages are living on these lands. Those with awareness managed to secure pattas and ignorant people like us still cultivating these lands but could not secure pattas.’

He questioned who will do justice to them if the government itself snatches away their lands?Farmers leader Banoth Narsimha alleged conspiracy behind the snatching of their land.

He raised doubts in taking away their lands on the pretext of Haritha Haram, in the wake of reports that the government is handing over Bayyaram iron ores to multi-national companies, which is near to their lands.

He hope to get justice from courts. Bayyaram Forest Range Officer S V V K Prasad while speaking to THI said the girijans took up podu cultivation against the law.

He said that they have evidences in the form of Google pictures that these lands belong to the government and they can prove it. ‘Since it is government land, we have planted Haritha Haram saplings,’ he concluded.

Mateti Muralikrishna

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