Samwad Yatra Report: Day 34–PRAKASAM, Andhara Pradesh (4 November)

The Yatra entered  Ulupdu (Prakasam), where Dalit Bahujan Vayavasaya Karmik Sangha and other local organizations organized a public meeting. About 100 leaders of Ynadi (nomad) community and fisherfolk raised their voices for their forgotten rights over land and fishing. The leader of Yanadi community, Mr Emanual from Mauripudi village spoke about how their land ownership had been misappropriated by local landlords over last 5 years. 16 Ynadi families have received the assigned land in 1987 under government programmes, which developed after hard labour. Similar incidences of land grabbing were narrated by most of the village leaders. Mr Rajaram from Kodaridipalli village spoke of how they also lost 64 acres of land after litigation in court. Mr Anagi from Salichera village explained how the local administration cooperated, when 120 Yanadi families were asked to vacate their land because of a threatened Cyclone in year 2003. After this forceful dislocation all 120 fisherfolk Yanadi families lost their livelihood. Today they are unable to go for agricultural labour. The same piece of land has been transferred for real estate purposes.

Mr Isaq from Tilamutur village narrated a similar case where 17 Yanadi families were given 120 acres of land 17 years ago. Recently their land has been taken back for real estate purposes. The villagers have appeared in the court with the help of local lawyers, but for 4 years they have been unable to plough which has caused the loss of their livelihood. Even after several RTI applications, the state is not interested to disclose any information related with the transfer of land for real estate purpose. Mr Shekhar from Maikudei village spoke of how 51 dalit families developed 210 acres of Peramuk land after written permission of the State during 1951. Now the state wants to transfer this land for industrial purpose and their possession of it has been challenged by local administration. The President of YANADI SAMAKHYA (a peoples’ organization working for the rights of the Yanadi community). Ms K Bhujamma explained that now the state is taking the land in Kotredgunk, Marechettusangam, Kerdu, Wakasangam and Akutodasangam villages which has also been targeted for industrial and real estate purposes, here about 1200 Yanadi families have developed these land after hard labour.

The Yatra next visited the Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation, where a proposed power plant will be built in the area in Prakasam in year 2006. The villagers of Kanpattipalam panchyat are extremely angry with the aggressive attitude of the state. The local farmer Mr Tirupati Rao says that about 2500 small and marginal farmers cultivated about 5000 acres of land over the last 5 generations, which is known for one of the most fertile lands in the Prakasam district where they grow 3 crops in a year because of the fertility and availability of irrigation in this land. In the year 2009, about 2500 acres of land have been identified for the proposed power plant, which is being challenged by the farmers in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The local farmer leader and one of the petitioners Mr MV Chowdhry (in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh) spoke of the how state is behaving very aggressively by grabbing the land of the local farmers through brutal ways; without any public consultations state has issued notice of Section-4 (Land Acquisition Act) for taking their land. The proposed power project has the aim to produce 4000 MW with the huge investment of 22000 crore rupees. When villagers approached the court in 2009, they got the stay order on 17th March 2011. This gave a big boost for the entire movement. The affected area is also known for highly intensified and localized sources of allied livelihood like dairy and fishing. This historical village of Prakasampantulu known for its revolutionary leader, T Prakasam Pantulu, who was also the first Chief Minister of (united) Andhra Pradesh during 1951. The villagers gave their full support for JSY and were willing to join the struggle.

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