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Chenchus in Nallamala forest fear dislocation

B. Chandrashekhar

De Beers allotted 2,000 sq. km land for gold mining

— Photo: K. RAMESH BABU

Solidarity:Telangana Jagruthi president K. Kavitha interacting with Chenchu families at Nallamala forest.

RAMPURAM PENTA (NALLAMALA FOREST): The fear of a possible dislocation from the land of their birth due to proposed diamond mining is spreading like wildfire among Chenchus, a nomadic tribe facing extinction, in Nallamala forests for the last few days. But they don't know what to do and whom to approach to continue their existence in the lap of nature.

The Chenchus were unaware of the development, but the word is spreading fast in their habitations scattered deep in the thick Nallamala forest, thanks to the campaign by some non-governmental organisations and political parties.

The Forest Department had made an unsuccessful attempt last year to shift them to the plains by offering land and houses.

Another attempt was made in the recent months, though by some individuals who had secured undertakings from Chenchus living in the plains to vacate the present habitations for an offer of Rs.10-lakh cash per family, explained Dasari Srinivasulu, general secretary of Chenchu Seva Sangham of Mahabubnagar district.

When K. Kavitha of Telangana Jagruthi, surrendered naxalite leader Sambashivudu, BJP leader V. Jhansi and others interacted with Chenchus here on Monday, elders of the tribe were finding it difficult to react.

“We were born here and will die here, come what may,” was the response of Pedda Mallaiah, the oldest-looking person among the Chenchus gathered. The delegation alleged that the State government had allotted 6,000 square km area to De Beers India for exploration of diamond mining and about 2,000 square km of it was falling in Nallamala forests.

No forcing out

“Nobody can force any natural habitant from Nallamala forests, including Chenchus, to shift to plains. Let the government provide education and basic amenities first,” said Sambashivudu, who knew many Chenchus gathered there by their name.

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