Tribespeople Oppose Telangana Forest Department's Use of Podu Land for Haritha Haram

Reported by

Seethalakshmi

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

October 15, 2016

October 15, 2016

Updated on

October 15, 2016

Location of Conflict

Karepalli, Cherla, Kothagudem, Illendu mandals

Khammam

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Plantations

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

9984

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

81

ha

Starting Year

2016

State

Telangana

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Over the past few years, tribespeople in Khammam district have been at war with the state's forest department for attempting to forcibly take over their podu lands. Several thousand tribal households have been traditionally practising "podu" (slash and burn or swidden) cultivation in roughly 250,000 acres. However, as of July 2020, land titles had been distributed to only 93,639 of the 1,86,679 claims received by the government. The conflict is rooted in Telangana's flagship afforestation programme, Haritha Haram (Green Garland), under which the state government aims to plant 230 crore saplings across the state to increase its forest cover from 24 per cent to 33 per cent. However, of the 66 lakh acres of the state's forestland, 18 lakh acres do not have proper ownership records, creating substantial confusion and conflict about whether the earmarked land belongs to the tribespeople or the forest department. The confusion over the ownership of lands has been capitalised by political parties and has resulted in several ambiguous decisions. In July 2019, a woman forest officer was brutally attacked by a mob, allegedly belonging to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi that has championed Haritha Haram. A year later, in June 2020, 14 Adivasis were beaten up and booked under several criminal sections for obstructing forest officers from doing their work. Moreover, the forest department, with the help of police personnel, has also reportedly been resorting to strongarm tactics like destruction of standing crops, threats, filing false cases against several tribespeople and also using physical force. In February 2021, hundreds of tribespeople joined Leftist parties to protest against the implementation of the programme on their podu lands. There has also been a suicide attempt by a tribal woman in protest of the acquisition of her land. The conflict has been stirring up arguments and counter arguments from either side without an end. While there are numerous claims from the tribal community alleging that they have documents to prove legal land ownership, forest authorities claim that these lands lie elsewhere, away from the area where the programme is being implemented. In a nutshell, the conflict boils down to the tribespeople 'encroaching' upon 200 acres of forest department land that is necessary for Haritha Haram.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to give up land for the project

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

3350

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(1)(a) [This section recognises the right of forest dwellers to hold and live on forestland under either individual or common occupation, to either live on or cultivate]; Section 3(1)(f) [This section grants to forest dwellers rights over disputed land regardless of the nature of dispute]; Section 4(1) [This section vests all forest rights in Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers]; Section 4(2) [This section lays down stringent conditions that must be fulfilled before any forest dwellers are resettled or any of their rights are affected]; Section 4(5) [This section states that no Adivasi claimant should be evicted or acted against until the legal processing and verification of claims are completed]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(m)(i) [Gram sabha shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before resettling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the state level]; Section 4(m)(iii) [While endowing panchayats in the Scheduled Areas with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government, a state legislature shall ensure that the panchayats at the appropriate level and the gram sabha are endowed specifically with the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawfully alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Scheduled Tribe status or lack of status

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court of India; High Court for the State of Telangana

Case Number

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 109/2008

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

14 Adivasis were beaten up and booked under several criminal sections for obstructing forest officers from doing their work.

Date of Violation

June 21, 2020

Location of Violation

Khammam District

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Self-immolation

Riots

Objections as part of official procedures

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Telangana Forest Department, Telangana Revenue Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Communist Party of India (Marxist), Telangana Rashtra Samithi

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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