Congress to intensify agitation for Girijans' rights on Podu lands: Uttam Kumar

He claimed that the TRS government was misusing the term "Podu" lands to deny Girijans access to forest land.

Congress to intensify agitation for Girijans rights on Podu lands: Uttam Kumar

HYDERABAD: The Congress party decided on Saturday to intensify its campaign for Girijans' rights to forest lands. The TRS government, according to Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, a Congress MP and former TPCC President, is not implementing the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which was enacted by the then-Congress-led UPA government at the Centre to grant Girijans ownership rights on forest lands.

He claimed that the TRS government was misusing the term "Podu" lands to deny Girijans access to forest land. He claimed that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao was breaking the law.

He was speaking at a round-table discussion on the issue at Gandhi Bhavan on Saturday, which was chaired by former MLC B. Ramulu Naik.

He stated that the previous Congress regime enacted the Forest Rights Act in 2006 to grant Girijans rights to forest land. It was successfully implemented by various committees. There were 1968 Forest Rights Committees, 09 District Level Committees, 33 Sub-Divisional Committees, and one State Level Monitoring Committee when the Congress party was in power from 2004 to 2014. He stated that 2,15,742 individual applications for rights to 8,18,090 acres of forest land had been received. In all, 99,486 applications for 3,29,571 acres in total were processed up to 2014.

"1,16,256 applications totaling 4,88,518 acres were still pending in 2014. However, according to the most recent official data, there were 97,536 individual claims settled up to June 30, 2022, for 3,10,916 acres. This indicates that the TRS government did not grant even a single acre of forest land to the Girijans in the last eight years. Instead, 18,655 acres of forest land were taken from 1,950 Girijans, "he said.

According to Uttam Kumar Reddy, the TRS government issued GO Ms No 140 on September 11, 2022, establishing District Coordination Committees led by the Incharge District Minister for lands under Podu cultivation."There is no place in the law for the formation of such a committee. Therefore, the Congress party approached the High Court and got a stay on the GO to stop its implementation, "he said.

The Congress MP said that instead of calling them "Podu" lands, they should be referred to as "forest lands" and their rights should be awarded to eligible Girijans. The KCR government is facilitating illegal encroachment on forest lands by TRS leaders while stealing lands given to poor eligible Girijans by the previous Congress government.He said innocent Girijans were implicated in false cases when they claimed their rights on forest land as per the law.

Uttam Kumar Reddy mentioned his discussions with tribals in his constituency about their problems.He said that the KCR government failed to provide funds and other amenities in the tribal villages. He said the new gramme panchayats do not even have buildings and are operating under trees. He said the construction of a Banjara Bhavan in the Banjara Hills of Hyderabad was welcome. But it does not solve the problems being faced by the tribals in the villages and hamlets.

Uttam Kumar Reddy advised the party leaders to organise a conference on Girijan issues in the Munugode constituency

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