KHAMMAM: Differences of opinion have cropped between revenue and forest departments on the guidelines over giving rights on podu lands to the claimants. It is expected that ten percent of the applications will be sent back by SDLC to grama sabhas as many documents submitted by the claimants are found invalid.
While the forest department is confident that the satellite photos available with them will suffice in giving lands to podu farmers, revenue officials are saying that they were one of the evidences and not one and all.
There is disagreement among officials of the two departments over the age of elders, who are to testify authenticity of the claimants. The forest department, quoting norms, argues that the person, who has seen the podu farmer actively involved in his for the last 75 years, should be aged above 93 years. The revenue department says the Act refers to an elderly person and is not specific about the individual’s age.
Various issues including satellite photos are coming to the SDLC (sub-division level committee) meetings that began on Monday. SDLC can reject applications that are not backed by all relevant documents. The SDLC may either allow or reject or refer the petition to the concerned grama sabha for its reconsideration. The grama sabha will meet within thirty days, hear the petitioner, pass a resolution on that reference and forward the same to SDLC.
Scrutiny of 10,143 applications in Khammam revenue division, including 4389 in Konigerla, 2830 in Karepalli, 1751 in Raghunathapalem, 774 in Kamepalli and 399 in Chintakani mandals and another 7100 applications in Sathupalli division is a time consuming exercise. The six-member SDLC, comprising the RDO, forest division officer, tribal welfare officer and three MPTCs of different mandals should check all documents submitted by the applicants claiming forest land rights.
An MPDO, insisting on anonymity, said, “nearly 95 applications will be rejected if the SDLC or DLC take satellite pictures as the main witness. The satellite photos taken before 2005 show forest cover and the evidence is sufficient that the podu was done after the time limit”...