Podu lands issue comes to the fore yet again

The longstanding issue of podu lands has once again taken center stage, particularly igniting tensions in Chandrayapalem, Satthupalli mandal in Khammam district. Recently, the tribal farmers attacked police officers over the issue of podu land cultivation after forest officers lodged a complaint against them. While the BRS government took significant strides in addressing podu land concerns by granting rights and committing to support the farmers through initiatives like Rythu Bandhu, the issuance of passbooks remains elusive. 

The KCR government had initiated the distribution of titles for podu lands, accompanied by investment assistance through Rythu Bandhu. However, the resolution of podu land title disputes has languished for years. Last year, officials believed that the aspirations of podu farmers were on the verge of fruition. Despite the then CM KCR’s directive to drop cases against tribal communities, this directive has yet to materialize.

Across Telangana, numerous tribal families subsist on podu lands, relying on podu agriculture, which involves clearing small trees and shrubs on hill slopes. While these lands are colloquially termed as podu lands, their governance remains under state control. The struggle for land rights has endured for years, with officials disclosing that rights have been established over significant portions of podu lands in 11 districts. 

Moreover, the government has received over 4,14,353 applications from 2,845 gram panchayats across 28 districts, encompassing a staggering 12,46,846 acres of land allocated to the beneficiaries. Notably, certain districts, including Bhadradri Kothagudem, Mahabubabad, Asifabad, Adilabad, Mulugu, Khammam, Warangal, Nagarkurnool, and Mancherial, exhibit higher concentrations of tribal communities reliant on these lands.