Tribals of 800 villages losing out on their rightful benefits

VISAKHAPATNAM: Suribabu, a Kondu tribal from the PTG ( primitive tribal group) segment of China Burugu village in Ananthagiri  is left with no land to till as his one acre land has been “taken over” by a contractor from the plains who now plans to build a farm house on it.

After running from pillar to post for about six months he realised that though he is a PTG, his village has not been notified under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. And for villages that are not notified, the tribals do not enjoy the constitutional rights such as right to reservation, right to forest produce, right to minerals and the all important Forest Rights Act.

“Taking advantage of this aspect the contractor took away my land by producing fake documents. If our village was notified under the Fifth Schedule he would not have dared to do so,” Suribabu lamented.

Suribabu’s is not a one off case. There are about five lakh such tribals living in 149 villages in the Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts alone and many more living in 800 such villages that are not notified under the Fifth Schedule across the state.

The survey of scheduled villages was conducted immediately after Independence. But it was later realised that many villages were left out. To pass on the benefits to tribals who had missed the bus, another survey was carried out in the mid 1970s and it was suggested that there were about 800 villages in AP that need to be notified as tribal villages under the Fifth Schedule.

But the proposal to notify them has been kept pending. The central government had in the mid 1980s placed the proposal before the Union cabinet and after a detailed discussion, the cabinet had suggested some minor modifications and had asked the state government to agree to the same.

It is believed that the state government received the final suggested changes from the Union ministry of tribal affairs more than five years ago, but the file appears to have run into red tape. “If not acted upon fast, the tribals in these villages will be deprived of the benefits of the present sub-plan also,” said a former bureaucrat.

The proposal covers 800 villages including 1425 hamlets. In Visakhapatnam district, the villages fall under the mandals of Cheedikada, Golugonda, Madugula, Nathavaram, Rolugunta, Devarapalli and Ananthagiri. In East Godavari, the villages fall under the mandals of Sankhavaram, Prathipadu and Kotananduru.

During his visit to the district earlier this week, chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy announced the sanction of about Rs 4000 crore for development under the tribal sub-plan but he gave no indication of notifying these villages under the Fifth Schedule.

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Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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