The land struggles launched by tribal people under the banner of the Rytu Coolie Sangham, an outfit of the CPI (ML-Janasakti) in the Yarragondapalli Reserve Forest area in West Godavari district, has led to a direct confrontation with the officials of the Forest Department. The attempts by the personnel of the Forest department to save the reserve forests from land-grabbing was reported to have resulted in a showdown with the people from the Koya and Nayakapodu tribes in the Marrigudem section of the reserve forests a few days ago.

The encroachers were alleged to have manhandled the personnel and prevented them from discharging their duties with the alleged backing of the Janasakti group. The Eluru Forest Range Officer A. Trimurthulu Reddy lodged a complaint with the T. Narsapur police on the incident.

The tribals staged a dharna at the Collectorate here under the leadership of the Janasakti group of the CPI (ML) resenting the alleged attempts by the Forest department authorities to foist ‘false’ cases against them by using the police to dilute their ‘just’ struggle for land. They also demanded titles for the forest lands allegedly under their enjoyment in line with the Recognition of the Forest Rights Act.

According to information, the Forest department personnel have prepared an extent of 30ha of lands in the reserve forests in Marrigudem area under T. Narsapur mandal for raising tree plantations through the Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS). In the meantime, the tribals and a section of non-tribals allegedly took possession of the land and sowed millets with the backing of the Janasakti group, leading to a confrontation with the Forest department.

The department personnel have got information that people from a cluster of hamlets under the Marrigudem gram panchayat were also eying the reserve forest lands near Gattugudem in a similar fashion. It may be recalled that well over 1,000 acres of the reserve forest land near this village was subjected to grabbing by tribals way back in 1992 and the grabbers received titles over these lands under the RoFR Act.

‘Vulnerable’

The reserve forest area, spread up to Aswaraopet and Dhammapet mandals in Khammam district from Chintalapudi, T. Narsapur and Jeelugumilli mandals in West Godavari district, has allegedly become vulnerable to grabbing by tribal and non-tribal groups allegedly with support from the CPI (ML- Janasakti) and the other Left parties. The lands in this stretch are said to be fertile for raising tobacco, maize and the other cash crops.

The tribals staged a dharna at the Collectorate under the leadership of the Janasakti group of the CPI (ML) resenting the alleged attempts by the Forest Department authorities to foist ‘false’ cases against them.