Tension prevailed at Gandlagudem, a tribal village in Aswaraopeta mandal, on Sunday when a group of farmers staged a dharna with pesticide bottles in protest against what they termed as ‘attempts’ by the forest staff to ‘drive’ them away from their ‘podu lands.’
The incident comes a day after some aggrieved tribal farmers staged a protest against alleged attempts by the forest staff to prevent them from tilling lands at Bandarugumpu citing them as forest lands in the same mandal on Saturday.
Bandarugumpu incident sparked tension in the area with local tribals staking claim over the lands and vowing to continue ‘podu’ cultivation on them. However, forest officials dismissed their claims.
At Gandlagudem village, utter chaos prevailed on Sunday afternoon when a group of local villagers mainly comprising women staged a sit-in displaying pesticide bottles on spotting a posse of Forest department personnel.
Claiming that they have been cultivating the ‘podu lands’ for the past several years, the demonstrators insisted that they should be allowed to carry out cultivation in the lands to eke out a living.
Sources in the Forest department rejected their assertion citing the provisions of the RoFR Act, which stipulated the cut-off date of December 13, 2005 for grant of pattas for ‘podu lands.’
The two incidents in a row in the forest fringe areas of the mandal comes at a time when the State government expedited efforts to resolve the podu land issues across the State.