Residents of tandas in Konchavaram suffer from extreme poverty

The marginalised barely ever make themselves heard in the cacophony of election campaigns, and the plight of people living in the 13 hamlets (tandas) of Konchavaram forest in Gulbarga district’s Chincholi taluk is a case in point.

The forest-dwellers are alarmed by the State Wildlife Board’s proposal to declare the forest a wildlife sanctuary. They fear that they will be forcibly displaced from their land if the Centre approves the proposal. Already, the community suffers from extreme poverty with families giving up their children for adoption. There have been cases of infanticide due to poverty too.

However, the issue does not seem to figure in the campaign for the Chincholi Assembly constituency (reserved). The only candidate to give some promise on the regularisation of the unauthorised cultivation inside the forest is Umesh Jadhav of the Congress.

As per official figures, there are at least 13,000 voters in these 13 hamlets who will be affected by the proposal.

Subash Rathod, former vice-president of the Gulbarga Zilla Panchayat, said the State government should withdraw the proposal .

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President of the Shadipur Gram Panchayat, Tulsiram Jadhav, said the gram panchayat had not supported the resolution favouring declaration of the wildlife sanctuary. “It will sound the death knell for thousands of inhabitants in 13 tandas and we will be on the streets,” he said. Mr. Tulsiram Jadhav said the Forest Department had started acting tough and had taken back land under unauthorised cultivation from farmers. Boundaries had been marked and the next target would be authorised cultivation.

Some like Khimu Pawar of Dharmasagar tanda, which has more than 150 houses and 1,500 voters, held a contrary view. He told The Hindu that the declaration would help people in the hamlets get employment in the industries that were expected to come up there.

However, others were cynical. Kheeru Rathod and Shivaram of Sangapur tanda said though the candidates would promise to pressure the government, once elected they would forget about it.

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