BHADRACHALAM: More than 9,000 members of a primitive tribal group ‘Konda Reddy’, who have been living atop a hillock of Bhadrachalam, are worried about submersion of their habitats under the Polavaram project. Konda Reddy community people are spread across Kunavaram, Chintur and VR Puram mandals. The tribal community had, for long, been reluctant to come down the hill and join the mainstream population.
Apprehensive of losing their rights over minor forest produce, which is their only source of livelihood, they even turned down the offer of land and pucca houses as part of the rehabilitation programmes several times in the past.Few IAS officers also tried to relocate them, but in vain. The Konda Reddy tribals are understood to be deeply attached to the environment and don’t like mixing with other community people.
These tribals eke out a livelihood by doing shifting cultivation (Podu sagu) and making bamboo products.
Besides, they collect forest produce like honey, acacia gum and gooseberries and sell them at the local ‘shandies’ once a week. They return to their hamlets after purchasing essential commodities.
If the government constructs the Polavaram project as per the present design, the entire hamlet that is located next to river Godavari will be submerged, as the river flows at a 42 feet level throughout the year, and the flow goes up further during rainy season.
Konda Reddy community leader Murra Ramesh Reddy said, ‘’Polavaram project would bury Konda Reddy community’’. He demanded the Centre to reduce its height.Chintur Integrated Tribal Development Authority project officer Abhishit Kishore said, “We are shifting the people to plain areas under rehabilitation and reconstruction package. So far, we have shifted people from 20 tribal villages and of them a few are from Konda Reddy tribe.”