ANDHRA PRADESH

High Court summons Collector, RDO

Cuddapah Dec. 7. The High Court has summoned the Cuddapah District Collector, Jayesh Ranjan, and the Rajampet Revenue Divisional Officer, M. Venkateswarlu, to appear before the court on Monday, on a contempt petition filed by the former Water Users Association president, G. Bapanaiah, and others, alleging that the respondents allotted land to Dalits in the Thimmaiahgaripalle tankbed in Chitvel mandal, violating Supreme Court judgements.

The High Court also summoned the Principal Secretary, Revenue, D.C. Rosaiah, to appear in court on Monday, it is learnt. Mr. Bapanaiah and others in their contempt petition contended that the respondents allotted 196 acres of land belonging to Thimmaiahgaripalle tank for agricultural purposes, to Dalits of Thimmaiahgaripalle village in Chitvel mandal in disregard of Supreme Court judgements barring allotment of land under irrigation sources for any other purposes.

Significantly, the authorities allotted the land on February 28 this year, even as the Government is yet to accord approval for proposals forwarded seeking reclassification of irrigation land in 2000, by the then Collector, Adhar Sinha. The Supreme Court in its judgements barred allotment of land under water resources for other purposes and issued guidelines that the executive and judiciary were responsible for protecting water sources and could take up avenue plantations to maintain ecological balance of the surroundings.

Following a prolonged struggle by the Dalits of Thimmaiahgaripalle village, consequent upon their social boycott by upper castes allegedly for casting votes to the Congress in the September 1999 Assembly elections, the main Opposition raised a furore in the Assembly session in February this year. Within a couple of days, the District Collector, Jayesh Ranjan, allotted 196 acres of land out of the Thimmaiahgaripalle tank stretching over 400 acres, to the Dalits, in order to rehabilitate them.

The Justice Punnaiah Commission, which enquired into the social boycott of Dalits, recommended allotment of lands to the aggrieved Dalits for raising their social status. However, allotment of irrigation land, whose reclassification is yet to be approved by the Government, is also said to be contrary to the guidelines of Neeru Meeru. Peeved over the allotment of land in the tankbed, the Thimmaiahgaripalle WUA president, Mr. Bapanaiah, and some others moved the High Court.

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