Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Sunday directed the state government and the ST welfare department to provide alternative land of three acres within six months to each of the families of Adivasis of Kumaram-bheem Asifabad district who were allegedly detai-ned by forest authorities.
A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akther was dealing with the petition by Mr Gaddam Laxman, the president of the Civil Liberties Committee (Telangana), moved as a house motion challenging the action of the authorities in detaining 67 Adivasis.
The bench on Saturday directed the Telangana government to produce 16 members (heads of the tribal families) of the detenus before it by Sunday evening. The bench also asked professor Jaidhir Thirumal Rao to make it convenient to attend before it, in order to assist the court to translate the language of the Adivasis regarding their confinement and to know the facilities provided by the officials.
Following the direction, the authorities produced 16 heads of Adivasis before the bench at the Chief Justice’s residence on Sunday evening. The Adivasis were brought in an AC bus and the professor was also present before the bench to assist the court.
When they were produced, one of the heads of the families, acquainted with Telugu, informed the bench that they were detained in a timber depot by the authorities after forcibly dispossessing them from their land and houses at Kolam-gondi village in Khagaz-nagar mandal of the district.
Counsel appearing for the state government told the bench that they were kept in the timber depot on a temporary basis and it had all the required facilities. He said the Adivasis would be provided permanent accommodation.
He informed the court that as per the rules, each family would be given three acres land and would be accommodated in a permanent house till they are shifted to their pucca houses.
The bench directed the authorities to provide accommodation to the Adivasi families in the ST hostel and also provide ration for one year besides arranging free education for their children. The bench also directed the authorities to give them pucca houses within a year.
Mr V. Raghunath, counsel for the petitioner, urged the court to direct the authorities to allow the Adivasis to continue cultivation of the lands which they had been cultivating for decades. But the bench said that it could not give such directions since the lands were located in the buffer zone of the forest. The bench granted liberty to the pet-itioner to move contempt if the authorities failed to fulfill the undertaking given to the court.