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BJP MP Soyam Bapurao throws weight behind tribals

BJP MP Soyam Bapurao throws weight behind tribals
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BJP MP from Adilabad Soyam Bapurao has put brakes on the Government’s ambitious plan to improve forest green cover with afforestation programme in the ...

Adilabad/ Hyderabad: BJP MP from Adilabad Soyam Bapurao has put brakes on the Government's ambitious plan to improve forest green cover with afforestation programme in the tribal dominated Adilabad district.

Following a call given by the Lok Sabha MP to tribals to boycott forestry programme, the locals barred officials of the Forest department from entering their habitations. As a result, the target set by the government to increase the forest cover in the old Adilabad district under various programmes, including Haritha Haram is still on paper.

The BJP leader had launched a fight on the ownership of podu (form of shifting cultivation) lands by tribals since he was elected as MP. He gave a call: "If Forest department officials come to take your podu lands and plant sapling, stop them.

If need be beat them up and uproot the saplings which are planted by them. I will see what will happen." As a consequence, a woman forest official was beaten up in the district in October last when the officials took up plantation programme.

Officials said that the digging of trenches in many habitations where tribals are doing podu cultivation has been stopped. A senior District Forest Official (DFO) said that trenches were created on 500-km stretch in Adilabad district for plantation till today. Works were pending on another 300-km stretch as the locals did not allow digging.

Works have been stopped in the tribal areas of Indervelli, Utnoor, Boath, Neradigonda and Echoda mandals. There is no guarantee of taking up the works as the local communities imposed restrictions on the movement of the officials in their areas.

In the Asifabad division, afforestation works came to a grinding halt in Jainoor, Rebbena, Tiryani and Sarasal village where the forest officer was injured.

The main demand of the tribals is to grant the ownership of the podu lands to the families who have been cultivating the lands for decades. The State Government conspired to take over the podu lands from tribals in the guise of launching afforestation and natural forestry programmes in the villages, they allege.

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had assured the tribals of giving ownership of podu lands in 2018 Assembly elections. The BJP MP told The Hans India over phone that nearly 2 lakh tribal families were demanding ownership of 8 lakh acres of podu lands.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, permitted tribals to own the cultivating lands. The local ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency) had already conducted a survey on ownership of podu lands.

Trouble began after the survey reports were gutted in a fire mishap. It is alleged that since then forest officials began harassing people to vacate podu lands as there was no evidence of the land records in the Agency areas.

The MP said that he would not sit calm if the government resumed forestry works without addressing the demands raised by the locals.

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