Kawasi Suresh, an inhabitant of the village, told this citizen journalist , “We go to a nearby wgau (lake) for water. There is no water facility or electricity supply in the village. We recharge our cellphones in nearby villages where we are charged five rupees for every mobile phone.”
Even after complaining to the higher authorities, nothing has come the way of villagers. “We complained about this issue to Bhadrachalam RD office, Pinapaka Mandal office and Khammam Collector, but there is no action from them,” Mr. Suresh informed.
After speaking to the local authorities, this citizen journalist found that the villagers are living “illegally” on forest land. “These villagers are staying in Dandakaranya forest reserve area, and it is illegal to develop the area that comes under Reserve forestsm,” said Mr. Ramesh, Mandal Parishad Development officer, Pinapaka, adding, “But still we are providing drinking water to them during peak summers and also maintaining the sanitation over there.”
Curious, this citizen journalist now wanted to find out why forest department was not acting against the villagers of they were staying on the land “illegally”. When asked why forest department wasn’t taking a proper action, E. Laxman, forest range officer, Pinapaka Mandal claimed that it had become a “political issue” now.
“These illegal habitations are becoming a burden for us, as higher officials are pressurizing us to demolish them since they are destroying the forest. But the people in these habitats are not listening to us and are getting the support of local party leaders, who are making it a political issue,” Mr. Laxman said.
The question, however, is whether the government will act and rehabilitate these people at some other lands to end their sufferings or will it continue to be a mute spectator, not just to their miseries, but also to the irreparable damage being done to the forest land.