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‘Displacement of Koyas, Konda Reddis is forcible partition of tribal family’


Gussadi dancer Kanaka Sudarshan of Telangana at the 5th National Tribal Dance festival in Chintoor of Alluri Sitarama Raju district.
| Photo Credit: T. Appala Naidu

CHINTOOR (ASR DISTRICT)

Telangana-based Gussadi dancer Kanaka Sudarshan said the displacement of Koya and Konda Reddi tribes from the Godavari river to make way for the Polavaram irrigation project appears to be a ‘forcible partition of brothers in a family’.

Gussadi is a tribal folk dance tradition of the Raj Gond tribe surviving by the Godavari river in the erstwhile Adilabad district.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the 5th National Tribal Dance Festival being organised by the Adivasi Samkshema Parishad (AVS) here, Mr. Sudarshan said, “Irrespective of the geopolitics in the Telugu States, Koyas are our very own brothers. The Godavari is the lifeline for Raj Gonds, Koyas, and Konda Reddis. All our cultures are surviving by the river, from where our fellow tribes (Koyas and Konda Reddis) are being displaced for the Polavaram project and forced to disconnect with their motherland.”

“Until now, we have shared the river. Being a neighbour (from Telangana), what we can do is share the pain of our fellow tribes that are being sent out from their ancestral habitations. The displacement is the greatest tragedy in the tribal history of the Telugu States, threatening the rich cultural diversity of the Godavari basin,” added Mr. Sudarshan, who heads the Kanakaraju School of Gussadi Dance (Adilabad).

“In the ongoing tribal festival, every song and dance is raising the voice against the displacement and threats to the life and culture of the Koyas. We will attempt to assist the Polavaram-displaced tribes to conserve and protect their cultural heritage and diversity,” he added. 

“Beginning from the bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh to merging their landscape with the residual Andhra Pradesh, the Koyas’ landscape has suffered a lot over the past decade due to the geopolitics in the Telugu States. However, the tribes of the two States should develop a bond of ‘family’ to conserve their tribal culture,” said Mr. Sudarshan, a former Human Rights activist. 

By early 2024, barely 38 among 123 submerged habitations have been rehabilitated to the 26 Polavaram project Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) colonies, according to the Polavaram Project Authority (PPA), which is executing the Polavaram project. Nearly 90% of the Polavaram-displaced are Koyas and Konda Reddis, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).



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