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Telangana HC Asks State to Provide Proper Rehab Facilities to Evicted Adivasi Families

Court directions come following a habeas corpus petition filed by Telangana Civil Liberties Committee
Telangana High Court: State Govt. Should Provide Proper Rehabilitation Facilities to Evicted Adivasi Families from Reserve Forest Area

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Business Standard

New Delhi: A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Raghvendra and Justice Shameem Akhtar has ordered the Telangana government to provide basic facilities and accommodation to members of 16 tribal families, who were evacuated from the Reserve Forest Area in Kolam-gondi village of Komaram Bheem district.

The order of the division bench came after heads of the 16 families were presented before the bench on Sunday evening following a habeas corpus petition filed by the Telangana Civil Liberties Committee, as per reports.

The Deccan Chronicle reported, “one of the heads of the families, acquainted with Telugu, informed the bench that they were detained in a timber depot (Vempalli wood depot) by the authorities after forcibly dispossessing them from their land and houses at Kolam-gondi village in Khagaz-nagar mandal of the district.”

As per the court’s order, the government has to construct houses for the 16 evacuated families and will have to provide them with 91 acres of land within six months. As an immediate action on the division bench’s direction, the state government has agreed to give accommodation at a welfare hostel at Wankhede with all basic facilities to the families.

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The court order states that in case of violation or non-fulfilment of the rehabilitation provisions directed to the government, which include facilities like borewell in the cultivation land, the evicted family or the petitioner can approach the HC for contempt of court’s order.

The eviction of these adivasi families from the forest they lived in is in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order from earlier in February 2019, directing evacuation of tribals and other forest-dwelling households from forestlands across 16 states. According to an estimate, nearly 10 lakh forest dwellers are set to be displaced from their forest land before July 27, 2019.

Without the High Court’s intervention, the Supreme Court’s eviction orders would have adversely affected evicted families from Komaram Bheem. As per a report in The Wire, “the impact of displacement and denial of access to forests have impacted lives and health, especially of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs). These communities have lived in forests and are traditionally dependent on forest resources for their subsistence, as identified by the GoI itself.”

If the rehabilitation facilities do not work properly, then it may lead to serious impact on the health of the evicted tribals, as they are accustomed to living a life without much external influences.

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The Supreme Court order on the issue came as a result of a case filed by wildlife groups questioning the validity of the Forest Rights Act in which, the Narendra Modi government had failed to present its lawyers in defence. On February 13, the Supreme Court ordered for the eviction of tribals from the Reserved Forest land.

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