They also want the government to post an IAS officer on a regular basis as ITDA PO

Hundreds of Girijans participated in the 25-km march from G. Madugula to Paderu in the Visakha Agency on Friday, seeking title deeds for their lands under the Forest Rights Act and appointment of an IAS officer on a regular basis as Project Officer of ITDA, Paderu, the second largest ITDA in the State.

All through the march and at a meeting in front of the ITDA Administrative Office at Paderu, the Girijans raised slogans, as some of them explained how they were losing benefits due to the government’s apathy towards their rights.

The Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vrittidarula Union (APVVU) and the Visakha Zilla Upadhi Cooleelu Mariyu Matla Samakhya organised the march.

Girijans reached G. Madugula, with most of them travelling 30 km to 40 km from their villages, on Thursday evening itself to participate in the march.

Addressing the participants at Paderu, divisional convener of the APVVU Seedari Srinivas Rao explained that as the FRA was not being implemented, several hundred Girijans were not getting benefits due to them under the NREGS or relief from the government for the damage caused by the Nilam and Lyla cyclones even as the threat of being evicted from their lands continued.

The administration was badly affected because the ITDA was being run by in-charge POs since 2009. Frauds were unearthed in NREGS and sanction of loans for Pippallu, and primary schools were not functioning, said Vanjari Ramesh, a volunteer from Devarapalli in G. Madugula mandal.

The Girijans must monitor the functioning of the schools in their villages and if teachers were not regular or the mid-day meal not provided, they should register a complaint with the PO’s office through the toll-free number, said Saare Pothuraju of Kothakundalu.

General secretary of APVVU P.S. Ajay Kumar criticised the government for not posting an IAS officer as PO of Paderu ITDA. Some ruling party leaders, who did not want proper functioning of the ITDA, were not allowing an IAS officer posted at the ITDA, he said.

If the pattas were not issued to the Girijans by November, a mass fast would be organised from December 10, which is the World Human Rights day, he said.

Hyderabad-based Rytu Swarajya Vedika’s K. Ravi and Busanna from the Traditional Fish Workers Union, Visakhapatnam, extended their support to the Girijans.

The Girijans sat in front of the PO’s office for nearly two hours when the police closed the gates and the PO wanted only a few to meet him.

The Girijans raised slogans, sang songs, and performed the traditional Dhimsa.

The police were present and a posse of CRPF personnel was also called to stand by. Later, the officer came out and listened to the demands of the Girijans..

Earlier, former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma flagged of the rally at G. Madugula. He urged the Girijans to fight for their rights in a non-violent manner and assured them of his support.

Mr. Sarma had recently written a letter to the district Collector about non-implementation of FRA.

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