5-hour Sadak Bandh disrupts highway traffic
Hordes of cadres of the Left and various other Opposition parties, a clutch of farmers’ and mass organisations laid siege to the national and state highways at 21 different locations in the erstwhile composite Khammam district on Tuesday as part of “Sadak Bandh” demanding sanction of pattas (title deeds) for podu farmers as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The five-hour “Sadak Bandh” called by the Podu Rythu Porata Committee at multiple locations spanning a length of 400-km in the predominantly tribal areas of as many as 16 districts, including Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts, disrupted vehicular traffic at different places along the main thoroughfares.
The Sadak Bandh was organised to press for expeditious settlement of the long pending claims of tribals and other forest dwellers on forest lands and uphold their rights in accordance with the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, (FRA), 2006.
CPI (M) State secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram, CPI State secretary Ch. Venkat Reddy, CPI (ML-New Democracy) State secretary P. Ranga Rao and a host of senior leaders of the Congress and the TDP participated in the Sadak Bandh protest on the National Highway 365BB at Aswaraopeta.
Several protesters were detained at various places in Bhadrachalam Agency and elsewhere in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district during the road rokos, sources said.
Cadres of the CPI, the CPI (M), the CPI (ML-ND) and the Congress squatted on the main roads at select places in Konijerla, Enkoor, Penuballi, Sattupalli and Karepalli mandals in Khammam district.
Members of several mass organisations performed a cultural demonstration on the roadside at Konijerla energising the demonstrators out on the roads to defend the rights of podu farmers.
The demonstrators displayed placards demanding effective implementation of the landmark legislations — the FRA and the PESA Act — to protect the rights of tribals and unconditional withdrawal of cases booked against podu farmers.
Addressing the demonstrators at Aswaraopeta, Mr. Veerabhadram said farmers and people from various walks of life came on to the roads as part of Sadak Bandh making it a success at several dozens of select locations along the highways passing through the length and breadth of the State.
“Under pressure from the growing agitation in support of podu farmers, the State government constituted a cabinet sub-committee to look into the podu land issues,” he said, adding: “The podu farmers don’t trust the persons at the helm in the State, who miserably failed to deliver on their electoral promise of resolving the long pending podu land issues till date.”
The TRS government has not sanctioned even a single patta for podu farmers in the last seven years of its rule and tried to drive them away from their traditional lands, he charged.
He accused the ruling dispensation of depriving podu farmers of pattas for lands being tilled by them for decades for their livelihood in order to allow corporate entities to exploit the natural resources.