The Centre’s merger move is bound to reduce the tribal sub-plan area in seven mandals

Even as Khammam district is likely to give up the claims to the villages situated in the submergence zone of Polavaram project in Bhadrachalam Agency in the aftermath of the bifurcation of the State, it is set to achieve the distinction of sharing borders with three States – Chhattisgarh, Odisha and the residual Andhra Pradesh.

The Central government’s reported decision to transfer the “submergence villages” situated in Bhadrachalam and Palvancha divisions to the residual State of Andhra Pradesh is poised to bring about major changes in the geographical boundaries as well as demographic profile of the district.

The district has more than 200 km border stretching across several tribal sub-plan mandals in Bhadrachalam division with Chhattisgarh State. It also has a little over 35 km border with Odisha State. Of the total 16,029 sq. km area of the district, the tribal sub-plan area (TSP) accounts for 12,175 sq. km spread in as many as 29 TSP mandals of the total 46 mandals in the district.

The Centre’s merger move is bound to reduce the tribal sub-plan area in seven mandals in both Bhadrachalam and Palvancha divisions, sources said.

The TSP area has a total population of 5.61 lakh.

The tribal population, especially that of Konda Reddi Adivasis of the primitive tribal group, may come down drastically, it is feared.

Assembly segments

It is also likely to alter the composition of the ST-reserved Bhadrachalam Assembly constituency, which is part of the Mahabubabad Lok Sabha constituency.

The merger move is further expected to show its impact on the composition of the Aswaraopet and Pinapaka Assembly segments, sources said.

Although the exact number of “submergence villages” earmarked for transfer to the residual State of Andhra Pradesh remained unclear, the Adivasi organisations fear that the number is likely to be more than 200 much above the initially projected figure.

Lakhs of Adivasis inhabiting the forest fringe villages, the riverside tribal habitations and other traditional dwellings in the Bhadrachalam Agency since ages will bear the brunt of the autocratic and arbitrary decision of the Centre to go ahead with Polavaram project, rued Sonde Veeraiah, Convener, Girijana Sankshema Parishad.

Huge loss to tribals

It entailed permanent loss of traditional livelihood options, irreparable damage to the rich ecosystem and above all massive displacement of lakhs of Adivasis from their natural habitat, he alleged.

"The Centre should immediately drop its unilateral move and shelve Polavaram project to prevent a manmade disaster of unimaginable magnitude," Mr Veeraiah said.

More In: Vijayawada