Telangana: Adivasi Farmers Up in Arms Against Sitamma Sagar Project

Telangana: Adivasi Farmers Up in Arms Against Sitamma Sagar Project

The state government has set a deadline to complete the construction of the project by September 2022.

Hyderabad: Worried over displacement due to the construction of Sitamma Sagar multipurpose project, hundreds of Adivasis in Aswapuram, Charla, Manuguru and Dummugudem mandals of Telangana’s Bhadradri-Kothagudem district are protesting whenever officials come to conduct survey for land acquisition.

On March 9, Adivasi women joined by the left parties blocked the road near Devarapalli village in Charla mandal for several hours demanding the officials to come clear on the compensation for the project-affected families. According to a farmers’ organisations, there have been several protests in the district by farmers demanding proper compensation before starting the construction of the project.

“The Adivasi farmers have been living in a sense of fear of displacement since the Sitamma Sagar Project was announced. The land to be acquired for the project is in scheduled or agency areas, where the market value is low. At the present rate, the officials are offering some Rs 6 lakh per acre, which is very low. The victim families own one to two acres of agricultural land. Their survival will come under question if the lands are acquired,” said Yelamanchali Ravi Kumar of Telangana Rythu Sangham.

In January, Irrigation and CAD Principal Secretary Rajat Kumar stated that the government has set the deadline of September 2022 for the completion of the multi-purpose Sitamma Sagar Project. Kumar said that Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was expected to lay the foundation stone for the project, for which an estimated 3,200 acres of land will be acquired.

The Adivasis are not against the project but are worried of forceful evictions and low compensation being offered, said Annavarapu Kanakaiah of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). “The detailed project report was not made available to the farmers. Several villages will be submerged if the project is constructed. The officials did not inform the families where they will be relocated,” said Kanakaiah. He added that the government is deliberately not implementing the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. “The farmers are demanding Rs 25 lakh per acre,” he said.

As part of the project, the Sitamma Sagar barrage on the river Godavari will be constructed in Aswapuram mandal in Bhadradri-kothagudem district. Further, two more bunds are planned to be constructed in Charla and Manuguru mandals. Reportedly, the project cost is estimated at Rs 2,632 crore.

“The Adivasis have led numerous protests whenever officials come to their lands to conduct surveys for the project and land acquisition. Even in several gram sabhas, farmers have questioned the revenue department officials for not giving the details of the project and compensation,” said Kumar.

Kanakaiah said that the district would witness a mass movement if the government did not agree to the demands of the project-affected families. “The Adivasi farmers have resisted forceful survey of their lands. They have submitted their demands to the officials several times. They are clear that they will not vacate their lands before finalising the compensation,” he said.

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