G. Ravikiran

Polavaram-displaced tribals worried over resettlement More than preservation of their culture, they are worried about resettlement in the mainland, assert tribals

VIJAYAWADA: The shrill sound of horns, thunder of drumbeats and soft notes of `anklets.'

These mellifluous sounds will no more reverberate in tribal habitations and pockets as the tribals face the threat of submergence from the Polavaram project.

Nor will their awe-inspiring folk dances be retained in their original glory.

Tribals in nearly 230 villages are worried about future resettlement in the mainland rather than preservation of their culture.

Research team

These facts have come to the notice of researchers during their visit to tribal pockets in Khammam and East Godavari districts recently.

The group consisted of Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Institute Director Jayadhir Tirumala Rao, senior journalist Pothuri Venkateswara Rao, poet Surya Vamsi and researchers Sheela Mishra and R. Bhaskar Rao.

The research team found during its interaction with tribals that they were more worried about adjusting to a life away from the forest once they were dislocated.

But the tribals were confident that nothing could erase their culture from their heart even if they were removed from their native habitations.

"It is deeply harboured in our memory.

Our culture and traditions live in our minds.

Nothing can divorce us from our identity and we will preserve it," was the assertion of tribals before the team.

The researchers interacted with Koya, Lambada, Konda Reddy and three other tribes.

Culture shock

Prof. Rao told The Hindu that the tribals were already in a `culture shock' but they had a strong desire to stick to their culture.

From food habits to social life and from marriage to relationships, tribals would follow unique styles, symbolising spontaneity and a pure sense of native innocence.

Against this background, the team decided to express its concern over adverse affect on tribal culture through their writings and also draw the Government's attention to the problem.

"There is an immediate need to preserve the culture of tribes. More importantly, facilities and funds should be provided to enable tribals to preserve their traditions," said Prof. Rao.

He said that spirited researchers steeped in tribal culture should be involved in this significant exercise.

Compensation should be paid not just for resettlement but also for preservation of these unique tribal cultures, he felt.