The alienation of government land with irrigation facilities created with funds released under Tribal Sub-Plan in favour of Alfa Infraprop for a thermal power plant on the Andhra-Orissa border near Komarada in Vizianagaram district is snowballing into a controversy.

The allotment was made recently by the Revenue Department vide GO Ms No. 466. Sources told The Hindu that the allotment was made brushing aside the objections raised by local officials.

In all, 640 acres was allotted by the government of which 249 acres was already assigned to the poor, mostly tribals. Livelihood support created for the poor due to the irrigation facilities will be lost once the land is taken possession of for the power plant.

Rebbapragada Ravi, member of the Committee on Forest Rights Act set up by the Ministries of Environment and Forests and Tribal Welfare, described the allotment as highly irregular and objectionable. “This clearly shows how the funds released for tribal welfare are being diverted,” he said.

‘Full of irregularities'

V.S. Krishna, State general secretary of Human Rights Forum, is seething with anger over the allotment. “The whole land acquisition process at Komarada is full of irregularities. The allotment to the power plant subverts the rights of farmers across 19 mandals in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts,” he said.

Activists say it is a fit case of public expenditure being used for private purpose to further business interest of a private power plant. Former IAS officer E.A.S. Sarma said there was an irrigation project constructed upstream of the site covered by the GO to irrigate these very same lands to benefit tribals and other small farmers. The irrigation project in turn has submerged a few tribal villages further upstream.

For rehabilitating the displaced tribal families there, the government had incurred additional expenditure, he said.

Mr. Sarma, convener of the Forum for Better Visakha, said as per para (d) of the GO, those who had purchased lands from the D-Patta assignees in violation of the AP Assigned lands (POT) Act,1977 ware not entitled to any compensation.

He said there were water bodies extending over 79 acres within the lands being alienated in the GO. According to GOs issued during Neeru Meeru programme, all water bodies are required to be shown in the Prohibitory Order Book of the Revenue Department and excluded from alienation of any kind, he said.

More In: Visakhapatnam