Adivasi Konda Reddi Sangham intensifies anit-Polavaram agitation

The reported move by the Central government to merge the areas to be submerged by Polavaram project in both Bhadrachalam and Palvancha divisions with residuary Andhra Pradesh is likely to cost Adivasis especially the members of Konda Reddi particularly vulnerable tribal group dearly in terms of livelihood and preservation of distinctive cultural heritage, it is feared.

According to official sources, around 7,445 Konda Reddi tribal people belonging to a total of 2,446 households have been living in as many as 83 habitations comprising more than 20 hilltop habitations in Kunavaram, Chintur, V R Puram, Velerupadu, Aswaraopet and Dammapeta mandals in the Bhadrachalam Agency.

Barring those living in Aswaraopet and Dammapeta mandals, those residing in the remaining tribal sub-plan mandals are facing the threat of submergence under the Polavaram project.

The latest move to transfer more than 200 villages consisting of over 40 Konda Reddi tribal habitations falling under the submergence zone of Polavaram project in the Bhadrachalam agency to the successor State of Andhra Pradesh evoked widespread opposition from the members of Adivasi Konda Reddi Sangham.

The Sangham intensified the anti-Polavaram agitation demanding shelving of Polavaram project in Bhadrachalam agency. The members of the Sangham took out a rally and staged a dharna in front of the ITDA office in Bhadrachalam on Monday.

“Konda Reddis have been living in the hilly and forest tracts of the Bhadrachalam agency since time immemorial and the attempts to force them to abandon their natural habitat in the name of Polavaram is atrocious,” said Murla Ramesh, the founder of the Sangham.

“Both the pro-Telangana and pro-Seemandhra parties have been pursuing their own agendas in Delhi by making the voiceless Adivasis sacrificial lambs in the process,” he charged.

If constructed, Polavaram will not only submerge large tracts of tribal lands displacing lakhs of Adivasis and snatching away their livelihood options including bamboo craft, but spell doom for Konda Reddi tribal people whose population is on the decline, he said.

“Almost all the habitations of Kondareddi tribes will get submerged under the Polavaram,” said Katakala Pratap of Jeediguppa tribal hamlet.

“A few hilltop habitations such as Karmankonda in Kunavaram and other neighbouring mandals may remain unaffected by the submergence, but of no avail to the Konda Reddis. No one can reside on a hilltop habitation surrounded by water and it implies that the entire Konda Reddi tribal people had to move out of their natural habitat severing their age old bond with the native place,” he pointed out.