Tolivelugu Crime Bureau: It seems like the land scams and encroachments will never see the sunset in the state of Telangana. Conspiracies continue to take place against the lands of Bhadradri Ramudu, the favorite deity of the Adivasis. History has it that before the birth of Ramachandra in Bhadrachalam, the tribal woman Pokala Dammakka worshiped the deity. They were worshipping the diety for hundreds of years since then. With time going on, governments are cracking down on innocent tribals with various zealots, depriving them of even the land they deserve.
The Bhadrachalam region, which falls under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India, has laws in force 1959, 1/70, 2/70 prohibiting land conversion. According to 2/70, it is not valid to lease these lands to non-tribals. But the 917 acres of land in Survey No. 17 in Purushottamapatnam, which belongs to the Bhadrachalam temple, has been cultivated and used by non-tribals for years. Immersed in corruption and illicit activities, there were new GOs introduced just to let the rich take advantage of this vast land.
The story of Bhadradi Rama and the lands
Bhadrachalam temple grounds have a history of 200 years. However, officially on October 12, 1878, a man named Somaraju Purushottamadasu donated 917 acres of land to the Bhadrachalam temple through a registered gift deed for the daily worship of the Rams. The tribes used to give to the god the money that came from the harvest to the temple at the time of cultivation. A quarter of the crop was somehow handed over for cultivating the land. Being fertile, and the tribals not adapting to modernity, the eyes of the non-tribals fell on this precious land. Even the officials and politicians were onto something. Many got involved and eventually took down the amount they’d contribute to the temple. They tried pushing the government for the allotment of the lands and the issuance of titles by flouting the laws. Since the laws prohibiting land change are becoming more stringent, it became difficult. Now, with the monitoring from the central government, the rich are not able to take control of these lands.
The Koneru Rangarao Commission supported the demands of the Maoists
Bhadrachalam temple EO court stepped up to vacate the illegally occupied lands. But the occupiers already started lobbying with the then state government demanding to regularize the land. The proposal was made to the Collector to resolve this issue by negotiating only with the occupiers. In 2010, the High Court dismissed all the RIT petitions of the occupiers. However, like any leader craving to see to it that the lands are in their hands, they are trying to make it possible through their followers. Although the tribal laws are a bit harsh, many conspiracies were hatched in this matter until now.
According to their demands as part of the Maoist negotiations, the then government set up the Koneru Rangarao Commission on tribal lands. In the ninth chapter given by the Commission, the Commission incorporated their view on the Bhadrachalam temple lands. The Commission directed the Government to vacate the non-tribal occupiers cultivating these lands and allot them to the tribals. The state legislature passed the Koneru Rangarao Commission report as it stood. Following the report of the commission, the Revenue Department under the Arvor Act gave 720 acres in the name of Bhadrachalam Rama in Rama’s name.
Tribal MLAs being the nightmares
Locals alleged that Kunja Satyavathi, a tribal MLA from the then ruling party, had joined hands with non-tribals who had illegally occupied the temple lands. She has opened a dark chapter of spinning the land through various people without reaching the tribals. She wrote letters to the government requesting to offer them the land for lease if they cannot give rights at that moment. At her request, the Revenue Department released a GO against the law. The business continued in the name of Lease. The file has reached Ponnala Lakshmaiah, who was the Revenue Minister in the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet. Earlier, it was alleged that government officials and high-ranking officials were heavily involved in the scam.
According to the business rules, the file for regularization of the lease on tribal land should be sent to the Department of Justice and the Department of Tribal Welfare. But on the contrary, the Revenue and Endowments Department sent the file and the officials signed it blindly without writing any views. The law prohibiting land conversion was nailed down and dealt with arbitrarily. According to GO 379, Bhadrachalam temple land is also being leased. The High Court dismissed the petitions of the invaders as the bio-agency was invalid in the area. However, the then government passed another incompetent GO that is called GO 2166.
If GO 2166 was challenged, the land would have been given to the tribals again or at least distributed in a way where it also benefits Lord Rama. But no steps were taken in that direction. The invaders are still trying their best to gain political clout in the fertile black gram lands. Meanwhile, the Telangana government is not even looking at the temple situation, nor bothered about the land situation. Even though it was said five years ago that the temple would be developed, even in AP, the work of protecting Ramu’s land worth Rs 200 crore is still ignored on a large scale.
Why are we talking about this today?
The Telangana government, which is regularizing government lands, is utterly ignoring the tribal and aboriginal land rights. It is alleged that both the Telugu states are discriminating against the indigenous people. None of the actions from the government seemed supportive of their communities. There are reports from the forest department that non-tribals have cut down thousands of acres of forest with missions in the name of fallow lands across Telangana. To mock up with the financial strength, TRS leaders are tidying up from their side for a few months.
In the further stories, Tolivelugu’s crime bureau will keep publishing the coverage on the state of affairs of the stringent Bhadradi lands.