ADILABAD: The forest department is collecting details of podu lands being cultivated by tribals from the time before December 13, 2005 in the old Adilabad district area, and these details will be submitted to the cabinet sub-committee constituted to settle the podu land issue by the state government.
The state government is giving serious thought to issue pattas to the podu lands to settle the issue on a permanent basis.
Project officer Bhavesh Mishra, ITDA, Utnoor, said pattas under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act were issued to 35,000 tribals cultivating podu lands before December 13, 2005, in the old Adilabad district area.
Among these, 17,000 pattas were given to the tribals in the Adilabad district alone.
Alongside, ROFR pattas were issued to the 5,500 tribals, to the extent of 6,589 acres in the Nirmal district. The state cabinet's sub-committee of ministers constituted on the podu land issue is expected to submit its recommendations to the government soon.
The state government will submit details of the podu lands that tribals have been cultivating for a long time and how many acres were cultivated by them before December 13, 2005, how many applications are pending, and how many were rejected among those that were sent to the central government for its approval, before the issue of pattas to the genuine tribal farmers.
Forest officials were asked to submit the details of the podu lands being cultivated under their purview to the sub-committee so that the panel will review the situation. If needed, its members would visit the districts to take stock of the situation.
The state government took a serious note of the podu land issue as in many places Adivasis and forest officials are on a confrontation course over the cultivation of forest lands.
Forest officials say that in some places, forest lands were simply encroachments, and cultivation was done by tribals after the cut-off date of December 13, 2005 set by the Forest Rights Act. They did so in the hope that these too would be granted pattas.
Adivasis also say forest officials have encroached upon the podu lands that they have been cultivating for more than 40 years. Forest officials were planting saplings on these lands under the Haritha Haram, they complained.
Minister for forest and a member of the cabinet sub-committee on podu lands, Allola Indrakaran Reddy, said the state government is putting in serious efforts to resolve the podu land issue and it was collecting the details of podu lands district-wise from the forest department.
He said the cabinet sub-committee will discuss the podu land issue thoroughly and proposals will be sent to the central government for its approval.
It is said the state government was under pressure from the adivasis agitating for a long time with a plea to the state government to issue pattas to the podu lands. Now, the opposition Congress and BJP are also raising the issue to derive political mileage from it.