Visakhapatnam: Human Rights Forum (HRF) has assailed the government order to bring 13 non-Agency Mandals under the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Development Authority (VMRDA).

HRF AP general secretary K Sudha and AP&TS Coordination Committee member VS Krishna said the order has been issued without proper application of mind.

"How else can one explain the inclusion of six villages in Nathavaram Mandal in the list of the 13 Mandals stated to be non-Agency? These six villages - Dharmavaram Agraharam, Chammachinta, Sarugudu, Kuruvada, Kalavavoddhu Sarabhavaram and Pottinagannadora Palem --are clearly mentioned as scheduled villages," the HRF officials said

They said the government ought to remember that the Fifth Schedule area is of a unique and exceptional nature and is endowed with explicit Constitutional recognition. "Including these villages would mean they are deprived of rights and authorities bestowed upon them by the Constitution. In other words, the merger of these villages in the VMRDA directly infringes upon the Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) as well as The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, (FRA of 2006) that grant special and exclusive powers to Adivasi Gram Sabhas," the officials said.

HRF officials noted that GO 20 is violative of the seminal statutes. "HRF is also concerned that several villages that are predominantly Adivasi and are justifiably seeking inclusion in the Fifth Schedule since many decades have also been included in the list of Mandals to be merged in the VMRDA," they said.

It is worth recalling that there are a total of 553 such Adivasi villages in AP that ought to have been included many decades ago in the Fifth Schedule but were kept out due to political indifference and bureaucratic recklessness.

Consequently, these villages have been rendered 'Non-Scheduled' and Adivasis have been deprived of constitutional protections in all these years. "This is immense historic injustice. Adivasis of these villages have been seeking inclusion in the Fifth Schedule and the relevant files are under consideration of the government. To now include about 90 such villages in the VMRDA compounds the injustice that should have been remedied many years ago," HRF officials said.


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