Cashew Plantations and APFDC

Handing over Cashew Plantations raised by APFDC to the Tribes (ZAMEEN)

Write about APFDC. APFDC had developed cashew plantations in 5000 acres of Scheduled Area land all over erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. SAKTI has been working in Khammam District of erstwhile AP since 1994. OXFAM (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) and later Action-Aid supported SAKTI’s work till 1997. Khammam had 33 mandals in the Scheduled Areas covering almost 70% of the district. Almost 50% of the cultivable land had been occupied by non-tribals. The distribution of land to tribals in this district has been negligible. Left parties and Naxalites unsuccessfully were encouraging tribals and wage labourers to go and occupy the plantations and harvest the crop in these scheduled areas. This point was recognized as one of the issues of forest-tribal welfare and SC Corporation in the joint meetings of SCs and STs [1]. It was suggested in the meeting that welfare corporations should enter into auction and allow the poor to harvest the crop. But there was no follow-up.

When a representation from Naramvarigudem village, Aswaraopet Mandal was referred to Commissioner of Tribal Welfare (CTW), the CTW referred to the judgment SAKTI vs Govt of AP (W.P.3734 of 1993) and instructed the collector to take over the cashew plantations in possession of APFDC. The referral to W.P.3734 of 1993 was given to state that no person (person includes govt) unless a scheduled tribe and their cooperatives should not possess govt. land. The CTW directed the District Collector to take over the land since APFDC was a govt. body and as per APSLTR since it is not a tribal cooperative, they should not hold the land [3].

By the time SAKTI’s judgment in W.P.3734 of 1993 was about to be delivered, SAMATA filed another case related to the mines of Vishakapatnam district. But this time another bench had decided that APMDC can acquire land for mining. SAMATA went for appeal to supreme court, and the apex court allowed APMDC to acquire land for mining (page 69 of think globally). Then the forest dept concluded that government corporations can possess land in Scheduled Areas, and they used this to justify the possession of land by APFDC.

At this point of time, the tribal land rights movement led by SAKTI was at its peak in Khammam and West Godavari Districts. So the tribals realized that the cashew plantations which should be handed over to them were denied sighting this litigation. They realized that manipulation in court led to denial of their rights over their land and cashew plantations raised by APFDC. When the then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was visiting the Khammam District, the forest department expressed their concern over the agitation amongst tribal communities which is affecting APFDC properties and sought instruction to take action on the tribes. But having understood the gravity of the situation, the then CM instructed the District Administration to hand over the cashew plantations to 532 tribal women who were representing their respective families [4 and 5].

Talk about how the model between ITDA and FDC as envisioned by GO was implemented for the following 3 years (use reference 6). Use reference 7 to conclude that now the tribals dependent on these 1600 acres for cashew are asking for the distribution of pattas for the community forest resource under FRA, 2006.

As a result of SAKTI’s action, 1600 acres of cashew plantations raised by AP Forest Development Corporation have been distributed to tribals. However, the rest of 4400 acres in Scheduled Areas of AP are still under the possession of APFDC for cashew cultivation.

[1] Joint meetings of SCs and STs; [3] Judgment SAKTI vs Govt of AP (W.P.3734 of 1993); [4] SAKTI's action in Khammam District; [5] Chief Minister's instruction; [6] ITDA and FDC model implementation; [7] Tribals' demand under FRA, 2006.