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Maoists instigating tribals to occupy coffee plantations

HYDERABAD: Notwithstanding the success of raising coffee plantations in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam district, The AP Forest Development Corporation (APFDC) is facing problems from the outlawed Maoists who are allegedly instigating tribal people to occupy the plantations.

The extremists are also preventing the tribals from attending to the works in the coffee estates located in the remote areas and several incidents of arson including targeting the properties of the corporation during the last nine months were reported.

The issue figured at the State- Level Protection Committee (SLPC) meeting held here ten days ago where the officials expressed concern over the spurt in the extremist activity which was adversely affecting their work.

"The attacks indicate that the Naxalites are trying to take the tribals back into their fold, by propagating the idea of distribution of APFDC coffee estates among them.

They are also trying to gain the sympathy of the tribals by conducting famine raids but it is affecting the livelihood of the tribals as large-scale employment is being created on these tracts by the corporation," officials of the forest department told this website's newspaper.

According to them, the APFDC is raising coffee plantations over more than 4,000 hectares in the reserve forest areas in Visakhapatnam district. Coffee production in 2006 was around 1,000 MTs, fetching a revenue of Rs 9 to 12 crore. A production target of around 1,500 MT has been fixed for this year.

"The operations in these plantations are expected to create 6 to 7 lakh mandays of employment all round the year to the tribals in these remote Agency areas," they said.

The APFDC has facilities like coffee pulping machinery, drying yards and godowns in the vicinity of the estates located in the GK Veedhi, Chintapalli and Paderu mandals.

Some of the violent incidents that have occurred in these areas since June 2006 include blasting of the coffee pulper units at Lankapakalu, Pedavalasa and Kumkumpudi, torching of the jeep of the divisional manager at Yerravaram and setting on fire the office records and furniture in GK Veedhi mandal.

The Maoists also conducted a famine raid along with a large group of tribals and looted 59 MTs of coffee in Pedavalasa drying yards in the same mandal. The loss in these incidents was put around Rs 20 lakh.

Complaints have been lodged with the local police and the matter was brought to the notice of the director-general of police who instructed the local police to take all steps to protect the properties of APFDC.

The APFDC officials, however, apprehend that once the coffee harvesting season commences at the end of this year, the Maoists would resume violence.


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posted by Resistance 4/06/2007 10:26:00 AM,


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