Adivasis denounce eviction notice
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ravindra Seshu
Kothagudem: Adivasi organisations and social activists are on a protest against the forest department issuing eviction notices to 48 Guttikoya families in Errabodu and the resolution passed by the Bendalapadu grama sabha expelling the community from the hamlet.
Forest staff visited Errabodu and served notices on these families, which stressed that the village was set in a reserve forest area. The notices were signed by the Kothagudem forest division officer. The forest staff met with no resistance when they served the notice.
In another development, the Bendalapdu grama sabha passed a resolution expelling the Guttikoya families from the place. This would come under the gram panchayat.
Guttikoyas in Errabodu are firm on their stand that they would not move out of this habitation. "We came here to live a peaceful life but are ready to face any situation now. Why should we leave the place," asked Kekar from one of these families. Adivasi elder Madakam Junnu said, "We are ready to fight and die here."
Leader of nine adivasi sects of Telangana Chunchu Ramarkishna said Adivasis enjoyed the Constitutional right to move anywhere in the country including forest areas. "Notices of the forest officials and the resolution of Bendalapadu gram sabha violated such provisions in the Constitution," he said.
The Adivasi leader proposed a way to solve the Guttikoya issue in Telangana state, where the community has a numerical strength of 30,000. "The government should give 10 acres to each Guttikoya family for their livelihood in their podu lands. They should not do ‘shifting cultivation’ once they get land in their permanent possession."
"Instead of considering various options for protecting the primitive Guttikoya tribe, the government and various departments are denying their right to live. Forest officials tried to take back the podu lands in order to satisfy other persons there."
Social activist K. Ramnarayana said, "It is inhuman to punish innocent Adivasis for the fault of one or two in the sect. No article of the Constitution permits such action by any governmental agency."