Relocation of tribals opposed

Over 22,000 families will be hit by Indira Sagar project, say MPs

Staff Reporter

KHAMMAM: Tribal MLAs and MPs from the district have opposed the move for relocation of families to be affected by the Polavaram (Indira Sagar) project in environments where their productive skills will be less effective. Officials had a meeting with them on the rehabilitation and resettlement issue here on Friday.

Bhadrachalam MP M. Babu Rao and Bhadrachalam MLA Sunnam Rajaiah said that despite the best efforts put in by the Government, full-fldeged rehabilitation of tribal families would not be possible when their economic structure and social systems were weakened and their cultural identity was lost.

They said a total of 22, 830 families -- a majority of them tribals --would be affected by the project in 205 villages facing the threat of submergence.

It would result in severe long-term hardship, impoverishment, and environmental damage unless appropriate measures were planned and implemented carefully.

Stake-holders left out

The Bhadrachalam MLA pointed out that the panels constituted to study the problem of displacement had no representation of elected representatives from the affected area. None of the MLAS from the tribals pockets in the districts could make into it. People from the affected villages were not taken into confidence in any manner.

He stressed the need for holding grama sabhas to discuss and educate the people about the submergence problem.

They demanded that the project height be lowered to spare tribal habitations from submergence as the only way out to address the problem.

The Burgumpadu MLA, Payam Venkateswarlu said tribals would be forced to take recourse to agitational methods if the demand for modifying the design of the project was not considered.

He wanted the government to keep tribals undisturbed by minimising submergence. If the displacement of tribals was inevitable in any pocket they should rehabilitated in tribal pockets instead of sending them to the plains. Khammam Zillaparishad Chairman Chanda Ligaiah also emphasised the need for changing the design of the project. He said the survey of the below poverty line families in the affected villages should be conducted once again.

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