Telangana unit of Bharatiya Janata Party, on Sunday, demanded that the State government to halt taking up Hartiha Haaram programmes in podu lands (forest land cleared for cultivation) and allot land title papers to tribal and adivasi communities concerned.
In an open letter to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, party president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar, while extending full support to the tribal communities in their fight for rights of ownership of such lands, said the government will have to bear the consequences for taking up plantation in these lands without resolving the thorny issues of the forest land rights.
The TRS government denying the rights of tribals is an “unforgivable crime” and if the forest officials continue to insist on taking up plantations in such lands, it will lead to avoidable clashes. Aborigines and tribals are the rightful owners of the forest and every tribal who has applied for a ‘podu’ land title should be granted the same as was promised by the Chief Minister himself earlier on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.
The BJP president claimed that about 3.5 lakh have already applied to the government for ‘pattas’ to the ‘podu’ lands. The government had decided in October last year to take up applications from the cultivators of such lands, to start the survey in November for the consideration of the applications and to give the land title papers after the field inspection but there has been no progress, he said.
In 2006, 1.83 lakh applications were received for title deeds to the erstwhile state and 1,01,177 applications were approved. But, ever since there has been no step forward which is a “sign of the government’s indifference and negligence” on the issue. There is a tussle with regard to over 10 lakh land titles in 24 districts and in 2,450 tribal villages the tribals depend on the ‘podu’ lands for their livelihood, he said.
The Central Forest Rights Act clearly stated that the tribals have full rights over the forest, he asserted and wanted the State government to withdraw cases filed against them during their struggle for their rights, the communication added..