Grant land rights, Visakhapatnam tribal farmers urge government

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About 3,000 tribals farmers, residing across the 11 mandals in Visakhapatnam Agency, have demanded that the land on which they have been cultivating since decades be regularised by the government.

It has been close to 10 years that the farmers, whose agricultural land is spread across about 1.14 lakh acres in the 11 tribal mandals, have been asking the government to give them the settlement pattas as per the Forest Rights Act of 1967.

According to Rebapragada Ravi of Samata, the NGO, said that the then Forest Settle Officer (FSO) had settled the issue and awarded the rights to the farmers in November 11, 2007. But later, an appeal was filed in the District Court by the then DFO, Narsipatnam, he informed The Hindu.

After due proceedings the Court on April 29, 2009, allowed the appeal and the earlier order of the FSO was set aside and the matter was remanded to the present FSO to conduct fresh inquiry, according to the law.

In February, this year, the FSO had convened a hearing of all aggrieved parties at Chintapalli and the FSO had questioned the claimants of Panaslapadu village, if there was any documentary proof of forest land under their cultivation.

According to Mr. Ravi, the tribals do not have any documentary proof, but at the same time the forest boundary demarcating reserve forest was not submitted by the Forest Department, hence the issue is in abeyance and we have represented it to the District Collector, for an early settlement.

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