December 02, 2022 08:19 am | Up to date 08:32 am IST – YERRABODU (Bhadradri Kothagudem)
An eerie calm pervades this tiny tribal settlement of the migrant Gutti Koya Adivasis because the clamour for his or her eviction from Yerrabodu grows shriller.
Unrest after a homicide
Within the aftermath of the brutal homicide of a diligent Forest Vary Officer, Ch Srinivas Rao, allegedly by two Gutti Koya tribals of this hamlet positioned within the forest space of Chandrugonda mandal over per week in the past, unrest brewed.
A bit over 250 members of round 45 Gutti Koya households residing in thatched huts/tiled-roof dwellings within the Yerrabodu forest space, devoid of electrical energy, close to Bendalapadu village, positioned round 5 km from Chandrugonda, within the tribal majority Bhadradri Kothagudem district, are going through the prospect of eviction.
The grotesque killing of the FRO at Yerrabodu on November 22 triggered a wave of protests by the rank-and-file of forest workers throughout the State and set off a strident demand for the availability of arms to the frontline forest workers and officers for self-defence.
The ‘unprovoked’ deadly assault on the FRO occurred when the latter, accompanied by a bit officer, arrived in Yerrabodu on a motorbike on that ill-fated day to forestall an alleged try by some native migrant tribals to break saplings by permitting cattle to graze in a plantation raised by the forest division on a 25-acre ‘retrieved’ forest land.
The grisly crime had sparked outrage, and the forest workers vociferously demanded exemplary punishment for the killers.
The podu battle
The forest workers turned their ire on the Gutti Koya tribals who migrated to the State from Chhattisgarh. The tribals have been unable to deal with the persecution by Salwa Judum, the ‘State-sponsored militia’ of their native strife-torn State since 2004-05. They have been penalised for “destroying forests” within the title of podu, shifting cultivation.
The incident coincided with the survey of the podu lands initiated by the State authorities to discover a lasting answer to the podu land points inside the ambit of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, everywhere in the State.
The Bendalapadu Gram Panchayat, predominantly inhabited by native Koya tribals, handed a decision on November 26 (Saturday), 4 days after the ghastly homicide of the FRO, for sending the migrant Gutti Koya tribals of Yerrabodu again to their native locations in Chhattisgarh.
The very subsequent day, the forest officers had served eviction notices on the Gutti Koya tribals of Yerrabodu.
Distressed over the sudden flip of occasions, the Gutti Koya tribals of Yerrabodu have been making fervent appeals to the authorities to spare them from eviction and displacement.
Ravva Ramesh, who first migrated to the place from Konta tehsil in Chhattisgarh, stated they unequivocally condemned the homicide of the FRO by two members of their hamlet in a “match of rage”.
“We by no means had any hostility in direction of the FRO, and it’s not truthful accountable your entire tribe for the crime dedicated by two members,” he maintained.
We’ve got been eking out a residing by cultivating podu lands for an extended, he stated, claiming that they have been in possession of ration playing cards, Aadhaar and voter ID playing cards.
‘Vested pursuits behind hate marketing campaign’
When requested concerning the decision of the Bendalapadu Gram Panchayat to expel them from the world, a migrant tribal youth stated, “Some vested parts are behind the hate marketing campaign in opposition to us with the only real intention of driving us away from Yerrabodu to seize our podu lands.”
Sources within the Forest division say practically 25% of the encroached forest lands in Telangana are in Bhadradri Kothagudem district, which shares a risky border with Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar division, thought of the hotbed of Maoist exercise.
In line with sources in ITDA, Bhadrachalam, as many as 83,341 functions have been acquired for two.98 lakh acres of forest lands from claimants for sanction of title deeds beneath the Scheduled Tribes and different Conventional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 in Bhadradri Kothagudem district.
The survey has been accomplished utilizing cellular apps and the scrutiny of the resolutions handed by the Gram Sabhas is presently underway on the Sub-Divisional Stage Committees for getting ready the document of forest rights for remaining approval by the District Stage Committee, sources added.
This hamlet is one amongst an estimated 39 such momentary settlements constructed by the Gutti Koya tribals in Charla, Dummugudem, Mulakalapalli, Chandrugonda, Paloncha and numerous different mandals within the erstwhile composite Khammam district in a phased method since 2004-2005, sources added.
The appalling Yerrabodu incident comes within the backdrop of frequent skirmishes between the forest workers and the Gutti Koya tribals over podu land points in numerous momentary settlements of the migrant tribals in Telangana’s tribal heartland within the latest previous
Nevertheless, the forest workers contend that the Gutti Koyas arrange the makeshift settlement within the forest space illegally after 2016 and their claims beneath the FRA, 2006, stand invalid, as per the deadline of December 13, 2005.
“They’re outsiders and never recognised as tribes in Telangana and as such, they can not stake a declare for tiles beneath the RoFR Act,” stated a forest official.
They erected huts within the forest space close to Bendalapadu, named it as Yerrabodu, akin to the title of the tribal habitation from the place they initially hail from Sukma district in Chhattisgarh.
They began cultivating forest lands illegally within the title of ‘podu’ and ignored the notices served on them by our workers to vacate the forest land thereby destroying forest and denying their kids entry to training, he alleged.
However the Gutti Koyas of Yerrabodu insisted that the forest workers allegedly dug up trenches and raised a plantation within the title of ‘Haritha Haram’ of their podu land unfold over 25 acres.
We’ve got utilized for title deeds for these lands being tilled by us for a very long time, asserted Ravi, a migrant tribal man.
Regardless of having MGNREGS job playing cards, we’re not getting work regularly forcing our households to rely upon ‘podu cultivation’ for livelihood, he stated, including that their lives are intertwined with forests, and they’ll keep put in Yerrabodu until their final breath.
The Gutti Koya tribals from Chhattisgarh erected huts in Yerrabodu forest space throughout 2016 and brought about depletion of forest cowl within the space, stated A Appaiah, Forest Divisional Officer, Kothagudem, citing satellite tv for pc imagery.
We’ve got counselled them to relocate to the perimeter areas of forests to forestall lack of forest cowl, however in useless, he famous, including that the migrant Gutti Koya tribals failed to reply to the sooner eviction notices served on them two months in the past.
The CPI (Marxist-Leninist) Prajapandha State secretary Potu Ranga Rao termed the transfer to expel migrant Gutti Koyas from the State as “anti-constitutional”. Gutti Koyas are the residents of India, and so they have a constitutional proper to stay wherever within the nation, Mr Rao contended.