KHAMMAM: With monsoon hitting the state, members of the tribal communtiy have taken up podu cultivation in several pockets of the Agency areas in Khammam and Adilabad districts. However, this has also led to bitter clashes between the tribals and forest officials.
Most of the tribals in Khammam district take up Podu cultivation, which involves conversion of a portion of forest land for taking up agriculture activities.
According to official records, the district has around 5,65,600 hectares of forest cover. Of this, two lakh acres has been occupied by tribals as well as some non-tribals. The government has given pattas for 84,602 acres of land to the tribals under the Forest Rights Act. The remaining 1,15,398 acres is still occupied by tribals as well as some non-tribals.
However, forest officials are now forcing the tribals to vacate the forest land which has led to protests. The tribals claim that they have been cultivating the lands from the last couple of decades. The forest officials have already taken possession of around 10,000 acres of land from tribals and are struggling hard to get back the remaining.
Meanwhile, district Rythu Sangham general secretary Nunna Nageswara Rao has demanded the state government to give pattas to the lands which have been under tribal occupation before 2005, as per the Forest Rights Act.
Nageswara Rao said that specific orders from the Central government states that every tribal family is eligible to get patta for up to 10 acres of land but the state government has given pattas for only 1 to 2 acres for each family.
He also appealed to the government to withdraw cases filed against tribal and instruct the forest officials to not harass the tribals. Meanwhile, District Conservator of Forest (CFO) G Narasaiah said that pattas have been given to 84,602 acres for 24,610 tribals who are eligible under the Forest Rights Act. Forest officials and tribals clashed over podu land cultivation at Vagoddugudem village near Lankapalli forest area in Aswaraopet mandal on Sunday. Over 100 tribal families obstructed the forest officials from entering the lands under their occupation.
The tribals refused to vacate the lands which, they claim, have been under their cultivation for the last ten years.