Rama Krishna Sangem
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandraskhar Rao (KCR) has kept his word to 1.51 lakh tribal people to given the rights on Podu lands to an extent of 4.06 lakh acres, by giving them patta certificates on June 30, Friday. He formally launched this distribution of patta certificates at a meeting held in Komuram Bheem Asifabad district in tribal dominated northern part of the state.
KCR’s assurance to solve the long pending Podu cultivation issue of lakhs of tribal people much before 2018 assembly elections. In fact, he urged tribal people to join separate Telangana agitation so that their wish list was fulfilled once the state is formed. However, certain laws of Cenral government regarding forest lands came in the way of this. That is a reason for the delay in sorting out this issue, which stretched on till now.
Of course, there other types of problems too. Right from Bhdradri Kothagudem to Asifabad, a large number of non-tribal people too had occupied their Podu lands and were seeking pattas (rights in records). This is not acceptable under either the central or state laws. Only genuine Scheduled Tribes persons traditionally dependent on Podu (shifting) cultivation alone can have rights to enjoy the lands that come under forest department.
3.94 lakh claims over 11.55 lakh acres
When the state government last October called for applications for Podu pattas, as many as 3,94, 996 claims for as many as 11,55849 acres of land have been received. Of them, 2.23 lakh claims are from 7.19 lakh tribal persons, 1.71 lakh claims are from 4.36 lakh non-tribal persons. The revenue administration has conducted field investigations and surveys to find out genuine claims.
The claims are from 4,4946 habitations, 2,845 gram panchayats from 28 districts. About 82 per cent of genuine claims are from 9 tribal dominated districts: 1. Bhadradri Kothagudem, 2. Mahabubabad, 3. Komuram Bheem Asifabad, 4. Adilabad, 5, Mulugu, 6. Khammam, 7, Warangal, 8. Nagarkurnool and 9. Mancherial. With this, Telangana is 3rd highest in the country in Podu settlement, after Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
What are Podu rights?
As per RoFR (Recognition of Forest Rights) certificates, a Patta holder can cultivate the lands without any disturbance, but cannot sell them to others. To identify a person for these Pattas the government has followed a criteria – for a tribal person, he or she should be cultivating the land since before a cut off date of March 31, 2005, and for non-tribal people, they must be in possession of the land since three generations, around 75 years.
Significantly, CM KCR has ordered the agriculture department to offer Rythu Bandhu input subsidy of Rs 10,000 per acres to these Podu patta holders too from this rainy season. This will immensely benefit the Podu patta holders – rights over their land along with Rythu Bandhu money at Rs 10,000 per acres. This is expected to boost farm production in these lands too this year. A total 58 assembly constituencies are covered under this Podu pattas scheme.
“I’m committed to tribal welfare”
Addressing a public meeting at Asifabad on Friday evening, CM KCR said that his government was committed to tribal welfare. He said all the police cases filed against those who agitated for Podu land rights over the years would be withdrawn. KCR announced Rs 25 crore each to two municipalities in the district – Asifabad and Kagaznagar, plus Rs 10 lakh each to arou nd 325 gram panchayats.