Letter to the Governor and summary of the Indian people's tribunal on the issues of tribal land and alienation under LTR in Telangana

To His Excellency Governor The State of Telangana Hyderabad Dear Hon’ble Your Excellency, Sub: Report of Indian Peoples’ Tribunal on LTR Cases in Scheduled Areas of Telangana- submitted Indian Peoples’ Tribunal was organized on 24th March 2018 on the issues of tribal land alienation under Land Transfer Regulation in Telangana at Eturunagaram, Jayashankar Bhupalapalli district. A panel of Jury constituted with Dr. A. Vidya Sagar, IAS, (retd), Dr. H. K. Nagu, retired Commissioner of Labour, Prof. Jaidheer Tirumala Rao and chaired by Justice Chandrakumar, retired high court judge heard the presentations made by Adivasis from erstwhile districts of Khammam, Warangal and Adilabad. The public hearing was attended by around 180 tribal and their leaders. Tribals from Gondi, Kollam, Nayakapodu, Doli and Koya communities from have participated. 7 tribals from Gondi community from Narnoor, Gudihathnoor, Indravelli, Sirikonda mandals of Adilabad, 7 koya and Kollam tribals from Manuguru, Dhammapeta, Tekulapalli, Janampeta, Mulakalapally from Badradri Kothagudem district and 12 members from Jayashankar Bhupalapally district and several tribal leaders made presentations on their individual land issues and the conditions of governance in 5th Schedule of the Constitution in Telangana. In all 40 participants backed by the land records made the presentations. Lawyers from tribal communities also participated and spoke. We have prepared an executive summary of the discussions in the public hearing. In addition we have also added the analysis of the data on the disposal of LTR cases. We are presenting the report for your perusal and further action. In this regard, we would like to make few points for your consideration and appropriate action. Subsequent to Koneru Ranga Rao headed Land Committee appointed in 2006, the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA) issued series of GOs to ameliorate the conditions of land alienation by the tribals in Scheduled Areas. We request you to review the status of implementation of those GOs and direct the government to take appropriate steps to protect the life and lands of the tribals in Scheduled Area. A large chunk of lands in Scheduled Areas of Telangana is under the actual control and enjoyment of non-tribals and tribals who migrated from plain areas. To resolve land disputes and restore the lands to Adivasis, government/CCLA may be directed to set up Special Revenue Court at district level in addition to strengthening the existing mechanisms. In two out of 4 ITDAs, the District Collectors are holding additional charges of Project Officers, who are not giving sufficient time and attention to address the land disputes. The government may be directed to appoint full time Project Officers from central services who can discharge their duties with competence and effect. The report shows that the posts of Special Deputy Collectors (SDC) have been vacant for the past 3 years and have just been filled and as a result of which 4827 cases have been pending for many years. And hundreds of case are pending at the Project Officer level also. The government may be directed to strengthen the revenue court mechanism to defend the constitutional status of tribals. It is found in all cases pending before various revenue courts, the tribals have absolutely no legal support by competent lawyers. As a result tribals are officially loosing thousands of acres. It may be observed from the statistics provided, that the extent of land to be restored to tribals after verdict in their favour increased from 10444 acres in 2005 to 20023 acres in 2018. The reluctance of the local administration to restore the land to tribals from the non-tribals is very visible. The government may be directed to take steps to restore the lands to the tribals. The tribals have lost nearly one lakh acres (99765) of land to the non-tribals. The Koneru Ranga Rao Land Committee recommended for review of all the cases lost by the government. That has not happened so far. The non-tribals of Scheduled Areas are enjoying a large amount of lands by getting stays in hundreds or thousands of cases from the High Court. Some of the stays are still in force since 1980 and the government has not taken measures to get them vacated. This has virtually sealed the fate of lands of tribals in the hands of non-tribals. These is need for constitution of special bench in High Court to hear these cases and resolve the disputes in time bound manner. We request his Excellency to use his good offices to take up the matter with the high court of Telangana. In Gaddam Narsa Reddy And Ors. vs Collector, Adilabad District And others (AIR 1982 AP 1) the High Court of Andhra Pradesh had virtually validated the transactions of transfer of immovable property in Scheduled Area prior to Land Transfer Regulation of 1959 and 1963 came into force, whereas the Tribal Areas Regulation of 1359 (1949) of Hyderabad State also prohibited the transfer of immovable property by the revenue officials without the consent of the Agent. There is need to challenge the full bench judgment in Gaddam Narsa Reddy And Ors. vs Collector, Adilabad District And others by the government. We request His Excellency to direct the government to challenge this judgment so as to restore the lands alienated during 1954-55, when Kasra Phahani records were updated. The government of Telangana, which started the cleaning of land records should stop them in the 5 th Scheduled Agency area. The consent of the Grama Sabha is not taken before confirming the titles of the lands in the records. The tribal communities fear that this would further permanently alienate thousands of tribal lands to the non-tribals. This report is our humble effort to bring to your notice the issues faced by the Indigenous communities in Telangana. In view of the above concerns, we pray Your Excellency to go through the Executive Summary of the Report and take appropriate actions Your Excellency deems fit and proper. With regards Dr. Murali Karnam, Advocate and Academic TV Ramesh, Advocate P1, Rathnidhi Towers, Snehapuri Colony Nacharam Road, Hyderabad murali.karnam@gmail.com 9866479775 Copy to 1. Chief Secretary, Secretariate, State of Telangana, Hyderabad 2. Principle Secretary, Tribal Welfare, State of Telangana, Hyderabad 3. Member Secretary, Tribes Advisory Council-cum- Commissioner, Masab Tank, Hyderabad 4. The District Collector, Badradri Kothagudem District 5. The District Collector, Jayashankar Bhupalapalli District 6. The District Collector, Adilabad 7. The District Collector, Komram Bhim District, Asifabad 8. The District Collector, Mahabubabad PFA, the executive summary of the IPT