In Elluru, a public hearing has organized by the Dalit Mahasabha. The President of the Dalit Mahasabha, Mr M Ramesh said that much of the land that had been assigned had not in fact been given for various reasons. Villagers from T Narsapur, Chintalpuri, Chengoreddypuram, Lingopalam, Kodavedi, Amaverapuram, Jeilugumilla, Buttaigudam and Pollavaram were associated with the Dalit Mahasbha for claiming their land rights. In the afternoon, a public meeting has organized by Bhoomi Kosam Praja Chainya Sadassu which has been engaged with the tribal, dalit and nomad for two decades. The meeting was also supported by Netwan Sangam (a Women Tribal Forum) which engaged with the local communities since for over a decade.
The next day, the Yatra visited the village of Komipali in Khammam district which is badly affected by the existence of the Open Cast Coal Mining area. The villagers spoke in a public hearing about how the Singareni Company (a Andhra Pradesh Government owned) was set up recently in 2006, even after several protests of the villagers. The village people informed us that all the tribal, dalit, and minority sections of society who live here are now threatened because of 1800 acres of private, assigned and common property taken by the company with almost no compensation. Not a single person from this village received a job at the mining site.
The yatra also visited the village of Sudanpalli which is a unique village in Hasanpatti Mandal of Warangal district. The present joint collector Ms Karuna is taking a lead role in a very interesting initiative for putting land records on the school building’s wall so that everybody can see their recorded land possession and ownership. This initiative was started 2 years back and received tremendous response from the village.
The yatra team also visited the Tehsildar office in Hasanpatti and learn about the computerization of land records. Later we visited the Bhoomi Cell in the premises of District Collectorate of Warangal, which is trying to assist the poor and the landless to fight for their landrights. The lawyers and other experts who are associated with the group are instrumental to get resolved the land disputes. Ms Malini (Tesildar–the local revenue officer) explained how with the help of forest department, they are also trying to resolve the disputes between forest and the revenue department.
There was a Bhumi Darbar called by Natwan Sangam (a tribal women organization) in Pentlam village situated in a dense forest of Chandragonda Mandal of Khammam district. Mr Kanta Rao, a village leader mentioned how the colonial question of land ownership is still unresolved in the Khammam district. The last meeting of the day was organized in the village Polancha with the help of a local organization called SIRI. In a public hearing, the internally displaced people, coming from Chattisgarh spoke on various atrocities they are facing over the last 6 years.
A consultation was called by Bhumi Kendramdua, a local organization engaged in raising the issues of land reforms in Andhra Pradesh. Mr CH Ravi, the head of Bhoomi Kendram presented the background for the consultation on ‘Land Reforms at the Current Juncture’.
The village of Karimnagar which the yatra visited the next day is known for the successful work of its womens’ collective engaging in small scale organic agricultural activities carried out on the land leased by them. They informed us that 10 years back they got a lease of 6 acres of un-irrigated land for collective farming. Soon they got encouraging results from their hard labour in the land. They sowed rice, pulses and millet and also vegetables. They operated a school for small and marginal farmers in organic agriculture. In this village, 110 Dalit families cultivated about 100 assigned lands which they got long ago. They also had complaints that the assignment committee was not performing their duties properly and that land allotment was always biased by the political interest of the local Member of the Legislative Assembly, who is heading the committee.
The Land Darbar (Land Grievances Panchyat) was organized by Dalit Bahujan Front in Siddipet. About 400 villagers walked from 74 villages to register their grievances. There was a long list of grievances, all concerning the problems of land.
The next day, the yatra arrived in Paragi for a public hearing was organized by the Dalit Samakhya. There were many instances of land grabbing and land alienation. Later in Mehbubnagar, a meeting was called by Dalit Samakhya, Shramik Shakti Sangathan, Andhra Pradesh Dalit Alliance and Dalit Bahujan Front for welcoming this yatra in Mehbubnagar. Mr Krishnaiya informed us that Mahbubnagar is known for poverty and large scale migration where about 1/3 rural population has migrated to the big cities every year.