(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 17, 2013
Tribal Livelihood is Reprehensible’
Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, met the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Kishore Chandra Deo on November7, 2013 and brought to his attention the illegal actions of the Andhra Pradesh government and the Forest Department which were in violation of the Forests Rights Act.
The minister expressed shock and assured that he will take immediate action.
Below is the full text of the letter:
THIS is to draw your attention to the utterly illegal actions of the government and in particular the forest department in Andhra Pradesh in gross violation of the FRA and to request your intervention to protect the rights of tribals.
While this is happening in different regions of the state I would specifically like to draw your attention to the position in the Telangana area. I had occasion to visit Khammam yesterday where I met a large number of affected tribals.
At present in Khammam and districts with a tribal population, false cases are being filed against tribals, reportedly there are 200 such cases, for “encroachment” on forest land. In fact it is the government which has refused to recognise the occupation of tribals of forest land prior to 2005 and to give them the pattas as mandated by the FRA. In most cases where pattas have been given, only a fraction of the actual extent of land in possession/occupation of tribals has been recognised. The rest has been grabbed by the forest department. Now when the tribals want to cultivate the entire land which has been under their occupation, they are termed “encroachers.”
Secondly, use of tractors has been termed illegal and tractors have been seized by the forest department. On the one hand the ITDA gives loan to tribals to purchase tractors, and on the other hand when they use it on their land, they are being harassed.
Thirdly, “podu” cultivation recognised in the FRA, which is a traditional form of tribal cultivation, has also been termed illegal and tribals have been threatened with Rs 10 lakh fine if they do so. This criminalisation of tribal livelihood is reprehensible. In fact it is the forest department officials who should be punished for violation of the law. I enclose a poster bought out by the department which is posted all over the area containing these threats.
Further, community property resources which are to be registered under Form B of the FRA in the names of members of the gram sabha, is instead being registered under the name of Van Surakshaa Samity, which is another word for the forest department, which as you know has taken complete control of the VSS, in which tribals have no say at all. This is inspite of your earlier intervention to stop this illegal practice.
I therefore appeal to you to immediately intervene, more so as all this is happening in your home state.