Kakinada: The tribal people who were displaced by the mega Polavaram project on the Godavari River are in dire straits as they have not been given pattas under Recognition of Forest Rights (RoFR) and the officials are not implementing the Forest Rights Act (FRA) for their benefit.
As per law, the tribal people who completed 18 years of age and were cultivating the lands from 2005, should be given pattas and provide rights on the lands.
As per the law, if the tribal people lose their lands due to the various projects or government schemes, they should be given alternative land in other places for their livelihood.
The law is applicable to even the group members of Vana Samrakshana Samithis (joint community groups) and the group members should be given lands, if they are victims of any project. But, even now, the government has not paid attention to VSS cultivating lands so far.
The tribal people submitted their representations seeking pattas for cultivated lands as per law. But, many of the applications were rejected by the officials on the pretext that satellite imagery was not in favour of their claim. They were not recognised for their cultivation by the satellite technology imageries.
“As per the law, the officials should see the position on the ground level and assess whether they were cultivating the land by calculating the age of the trees and others. And when the tribal people were cultivating lands, they fixed their boundaries,’’ said P. Siva Ramakrishna, director of Sakti (Search for Action and Knowledge of Tribal Initiative), a voluntary organisation that works for the development of tribal people.
He said many applications were rejected by officials for various reasons. He said the cofferdam at Polavaram project area had been constructed up to 40 meters and the backwaters were flooding the fields and also the villages including forest lands. If the backwaters submerged the cultivated forest lands of the tribal people, the boundaries of the lands could be erased and it would become even more difficult in future to fix the compensation, he said.
The victims requested the government to give RoFR pattas to them, otherwise the future would be even more troublesome for them. Meanwhile, Polavaram irrigation project administrator O. Anand said claims of nearly 6,400 people had been sent to the government which had to take a decision on it....