Kothagudem: The tussle between officials of Mission Bhagiratha and forest department has led to residents of 10 adivasi habitations in Paloncha and Aswaraopet mandals of Bhadradri-Kothagudem district postpone weddings this summer.
The reason residents of these hamlets give for postponement of weddings is non-availability of water. Officials of Mission Bhagiratha had approved laying of pipelines to these habitations for supply of drinking water perennially; more so in summer, when there is acute water shortage. Locals say adivasis have to travel a kilometre or two for fetching water, as rivulets and streams; apart from borewells, go dry. Tribal people are thus heavily banking on regular water supply through Mission Bhagiratha pipelines.
Officials of forest department, however, have not given permission for laying of the water pipelines through the forest. They maintain that the 10 habitations have come up illegally in the reserve forest, with people migrating there from neighbouring Chhattisgarh district. They maintain that giving permission for water pipelines through the reserve forest will legitimise these habitations.
Subsequently, they may even resort for podu cultivation by burning down forests, thereby destroying the reserve forests.
A forest official, on condition of anonymity, said, "Giving permission for the pipeline is like inviting danger to forests. Thousands of acres of reserve forests have already vanished because of such people taking up podu cultivation."
Habitations affected are Regella, Jilledipoga, Thimmapur, Ramanakkapet Colony, Uduthaminda, Peddamidya and Moddulamadi in Aswaraopet mandal and Busurai, Chiruthanipadu and Rallachelaka in Paloncha mandal. About 900 people live in these habitats. They possess ration cards and voter identity cards, but not water facilities.
Madaka Kanna, resident of Thimmapur in Aswaraopet mandal, said, "It is a fact that due to lack of water, we will not perform weddings during summer. There are one or two borewells near the habitations. But they go dry and no water can be drawn from them during summers. We will perform the weddings after rains, when streams start flowing with water."