Our demands to the Government of Telangana from the Telangana Food Sovereignty Summit-2015

Our demands to the Government of Telangana  from the Telangana Food Sovereignty Summit-2015

1) Land, Forests and Local Governance 

i) We demand that the government uphold the spirit of Scheduled V of the Indian Constitution and take executive measures to implement the Land Transfer Regulation Act, review all land alienation cases, and immediately restore land to adivasis, that is currently in illegal possession by non-adivasis. Several High-Level Committees such as the Justice Gilani and Koneru Ranga Rao Committees noted that the absence of land and forest rights is a fundamental reason for high hunger and malnutrition in adivasi areas.

ii) We call upon the Telangana government to complete the process of recognition of community and individual forests rights of adivasis and other traditional forest dwelling communities according to The Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006). We demand that the Government direct the Forest Department to stop intimidating adivasis living in areas declared as Sanctuaries and National Parks. Without the completion of recognition of habitat, community, and individual rights and without taking the consent of the Gram sabha as per FRA, 2006, no resettlement or rehabilitation can be initiated. Community Forest Rights have to be accorded exclusively to the Gram Sabha, and not to any other institutions’ (eg Joint Forest Committee).

iii) We demand that the government recognize the self-rule of Adivasis living in Schedule V areas of Telangana. Towards this end, it must amend the current Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Amendment Act), 1998, and the Andhra Pradesh Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Rules, 2011 which has empowered Mandal Parishads instead of Gram Sabhas. This is not in compliance with the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (Act No.40 of 1996) enacted by the Government of India. The Telangana government must take this opportunity to amend the PESA Act to bring it in consonance with the Central Act, so as to empower Gram sabhas for self-rule, as per Adivasi traditions and customs. This is a pre-requisite to achieving food sovereignty.

iv) We demand a halt to all plantations being raised on private land titles, individual titles obtained under FRA, and in forests, which is threatening the local biodiversity of forests and forest foods, resilient adivasi food farming cultures, and food security. Governance of resources (land, forests, water, air, diversity, seeds, knowledge) should be in the hands of the Gram sabha.

v) We demand that the Government of Telangana implement its promise to distribute lands to the landless especially to landless Dalit families.

vi) We call for prompt implementation of GO 421, to compensate farming families where a family member (either woman or man) has committed suicide.

 2) Protecting Common Property Resources including Village Grazing Lands and Village Tanks

 i) Telangana was known for its village common property resources both land (gautan, poromboke, shikam bhumi, charai zameen, community threshing grounds, etc) and water bodies, that traditionally supported a wide spectrum of vital livelihood needs: fodder grasses, fodder and fruit trees, wild uncultivated vegetables and tubers, fuelwood, fibre, medicinal plants, fishing, drinking water for animals, washing clothes, irrigation etc. These commons have virtually disappeared, resulting in huge loss of livestock populations. We condemn all efforts of the government to stop grazing based livestock livelihoods and reject efforts to promote stall-feeding of animals. Diverse local indigenous livestock provide valuable manure and urine, which are a pre-requisite for agro-ecological food farming.

We demand that the government commit to declaring atleast 10% of all village lands as common grazing lands and for other common uses as described above, and stop the diversion of common lands for real estates, urbanization, industries etc. We urge the government to stringently implement the directives of the Supreme Court of India (Case No. 1132 /2011 @ SLP(C) No.3109/2011 to restore encroached commons to the Gram Panchayats.

ii) Whilst welcoming the governments Kakatiya Mission to restore Village tanks, we strongly oppose the outsourcing of the tank restoration to companies and contractors. This completely sidelines the immense wealth of people’s knowledge of tank management and restoration. We demand that the village community through the Gram Panchayat and under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Scheme (MGNREGS) execute the restoration of village tanks. This shall generate livelihood for the community during the summer months, when large numbers of the community migrate to the cities as construction labour.

iii) It is critical that the water of these tanks be used locally by the communities, and not be carried away to feed industries, cities, or the water grid program.

iv) We demand that all the lands surrounding village tanks be conserved with diverse local fodder, fruit trees such as Acacia nilotica (Tumma chettu), which are to be protected for use by shepherds and other livestock rearing communities.

v) We demand a halt to all projects: dams, mines, real estates, SEZs, industries, which displace people from their villages, lands and livelihoods, in violation of constitutional rights and laws that safeguard peoples right to life, forests , environment and biodiversity.

3) Building Seed and Breed Sovereignty:

i) We demand that the government stop supporting MNCs and Companies to produce and distribute hybrid, high yielding and Genetically Modified seeds to farmers. Instead the government must actively support adivasi and farming communities to produce traditional native seeds of local diverse food crops, and procure these seeds from communities for redistribution to other farmers at subsidized rates.

ii) The government must invest in public and extension education to campaign widely on the urgent need of cultivating and conserving / saving the seeds of diverse local agro-ecologically appropriate food crops.

iii) The government must announce positive support for farmers to enable them to return to diverse rainfed agro-ecological food-farming systems. Minimum Support Price (MSP) for these diverse agro-ecologically appropriate food crops should be announced and the produce locally procured and distributed through the Public Distribution System. Following the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission the MSP announced should be 50% more than the actual cost of cultivation.

iv) Farmers need to be guaranteed free access to different traditional and local varieties of seeds that are currently being held in trust in public gene banks maintained by National and International Agriculture Research Institutes in Telangana : eg the Professor Jayashankar Agriculture University and ICRISAT.

v) Attempts to privatize and patent traditional and native seed varieties under the National seed registration program, need to be halted. Native seeds need to continue to be in the public domain.

vi) We demand that the Telangana government deny permission for GM field trials, and call for a moratorium on GM crops (pulses, cereals, vegetables, fruit).

vii) We demand that the government support community programs to revive and restock diverse and locally adapted indigenous animal breeds of Telangana : Indigenous breeds of cattle, Pandharpuri and Nagpuri Buffaloes, Deccani sheep, Osmanabadi goats, indigenous poultry, pigs and donkeys.

viii) It is imperative to declare the Deccani sheep breed as the primary sheep breed of Telangana, and to enable the re-establishment of the Deccani breed, through procurement and distribution of Deccani Breeding Rams from local Deccani sheep breeders of Telangana.

 4) Local Food Markets and Building Food Sovereignty Through the National Food Security Act

i) The Government must operationalise the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and enable the provision of healthy, culturally appropriate food to people. Implementation of the NFSA must be done by supporting local farmers, their diverse food production and local markets for millets, cereals, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables, milk etc., . The NFSA must ensure local decentralized procurement of food cultivated agro-ecologically, and distribute this food locally through the Public Distribution System, through school mid-day meals, anganwadis, and under programs for pregnant and lactating mothers.   This will also enable local vendors to procure vegetables directly from local producers rather than industrial market chains.

ii) We demand State regulation of Corporations marketing Milk and Milk Produce, by announcing a Minimum Procurement Price for Milk, below which private dairy companies and corporations will not be permitted to procure milk from producers. This can be executed through Government Cooperatives such as Vijaya Dairy. Further to prevent any one Corporation or Company achieving monopoly control over the milk markets, the government must announce a minimum sales price, below which no private entity will be allowed to sell Milk.

iii)  The Government must facilitate support to organizing localized non-centralized milk markets, which shall connect local producers to local consumers.

iv) The Government must extend support to community efforts to revive and market the Gongadi , thereby supporting the traditional crafts and livelihoods of wool spinners and weavers of Telangana. v) We urge the Government to support local community managed cottage food processing units, which are environmentally safe, non-polluting and conducive to the local agro-ecological production and will revive local Telangana Food Cultures.

Adivasi, Dalits, Shepherds, Peasants, Fisherfolk, Artisans, Craftspeople, Artists and Performing Artists are directly connected to the Food Farming Systems of Telangana. The aspirations and visions of these communities should be central to the democratic reconstruction of Telangana, and shape its policies and programs. The Government must respect and implement these visions, for a “golden Telangana” , free of suicides and despair.

Food Sovereignty Alliance, India                         February 24th 2015

Adivasi Aikya Vedika ,Telangana

Deccani Gorrela Mekala Pempakhadharula Sangham,Telangana

Dalit Mahila Sangam, Medak, Telangana

Chinna Sannakaru Rythu Sangham, Warangal, Telangana

Coproducers, Hyderabad Screen shot 2015-03-06 at 1.58.30 PM Screen shot 2015-03-06 at 1.59.15 PM Screen shot 2015-03-06 at 1.59.24 PM Screen shot 2015-03-06 at 1.59.39 PM

Telangana Food Sovereignty Summit – 2015 (February 22-24, 2015)

Matthadiguda cheruvu, Matthadiguda Village, Uthnoor, Adilabad – The site of the Food Sovereignty Summit 2015

DSC_0043 The Summit was hosted by Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Telangana, and organised by the Food Sovereignty Alliance. We began by invoking Bhutalli- Mother Earth, in the Adivasi Gond tradition. DSC_0137DSC_0150DSC_0189

On Day 1 activists from the Alliance and other movements spoke about struggles and actions to assert our rights to resources, livelihoods, food-farming systems and diverse food cultures.

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We deliberated on key forces challenging Food Sovereignty: Corporate Industrial Agriculture Systems and Industrial Food Chains; Global Trade Agreements, Corporate control of Seed, The role of Government.

Session 1 focused on Seed Sovereignty, trends in National policies and legislation that threaten our land, water, biodiversity, food systems and health, the role of Research Institutions in Agriculture, Global Trade and their impact on our agriculture food systems: the project of death vs the project of life

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Session 2 focused on Adivasis, The Resource Loot, and Buen vivir  or “Manchi jeevitam” as a strategy to resist and assert Adivasi world views and way of life:

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The performance of Bhuthalli – (Mother Earth) a Telugu play in Street Theatre Format, captures the relationship of adivasis, dalits, shepherds and peasants with Mother Earth, interrogates the forces that are systematically dispossessing people from their land, livelihoods and resources, and celebrates the diversity of people’s resistance. The play was performed by actors from adivasi, dalit , shepherd and peasant and co-producer communities.

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On Day 2, the Women and Men sat separately to reflect, share questions and ideas based on the deliberations thus far. Strategies for concrete actions that emerged from our unique gender perspectives began taking shape.

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We then regrouped into our constituencies as Adivasis, Dalits, Peasants, Agro-pastoralists and Co-producers to develop Strategies and Actions to take forward the vision of Food Sovereignty in Telangana.

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These were shared and consolidated as a Call for Action: The Matthadiguda Declaration on Food Sovereignty and Demands to the Telangana Government.

Government officials, political representatives and elected Sarpanches participated on Day 3 and responded to the declaration and the demands.

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Diverse organisations, social movements, lawyers, scientists and students participated in solidarity: Adivasi Vidyarthi Sangham (Students Union)-Telangana, Adivasi Writers Association, Adivasi Hakula Porata Samiti (Tudum Debba); Akhila Bharat Gond Mahasabha; Bharat Jan Andolan; Dalit Bahujan Front; Human Rights Forum; Jharkhand Mining Area Coordination Committee; Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha; Rythu Swaraj Vedika; Telangana Jal Sadhana Samiti; Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika.

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We celebrated with songs, dances, music and art!

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In the spirit of family farming …. children

Resisting Corporate Control of Seeds: we exchanged traditional seeds of diverse food crops to build seed sovereignty. Herbal medicines, Gongadis, Honey, books, T-shirts produced by various members of the Alliance were available at the local Summit Santha (local market).

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As happens at each summit, every meal was contributed by different Members of the Alliance. This was food cultivated through agroecological practices or collected locally by the community.

Aseel poultry, pearl millet, fox tail millet, little millet, dryland rice, pumpkin, gourds, turmeric from the adivasi areas of Andhra Pradesh, dried fish and kodo millet from Vishakapatnam, finger millet flour, foxtail millet, horse gram and organic jaggery from Chittoor,  mutton of the Deccani sheep, rice and vegetables from Medak, pulses from Warangal,  sweets and savories made of sesame seeds, rice and gram flour from Medak, honey and sorghum from Mahabubnagar adivasi areas, sorghum, pulses, rice, vegetables, maize, fish and savories of pulses from Adilabad, organic jaggery from Medak and more…..

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At the end of 3 days, we bid good bye in the traditional Gond way taking with us the strength, resolve and energy from the solidarity and celebration to continue to assert our sovereign right over our food systems!



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The Pellipadugu Declaration on Food Sovereignty

Adivasi, dalit, pastoralist and peasant communities declare food security can only be met through Food Sovereignty

We met as we do each year between the 28th and 30th of December 2013, at the Food Sovereignty Summit, which this year saw over 300 adivasi, dalit, pastoralist and peasant communities from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, gather at the Pellipadugu Kalwa (stream) that flows through the warm and welcoming hills surrounding D.Bhimavaram and Nookarai villages. This year there were a lot of young people, students and city folks who came, out of deep concern about our collective future of food. For 3 days it was a colourful yet extremely political celebration of our movements for food sovereignty: we sang, we ate the different diverse foods that we had grown in our villages which were brought and shared, we discussed, we had heated debates: from the food security bill to  the “Peace Clause” at Bali, to chalking out concrete steps to shift from commodity monocultures to growing food; the dialogue session on Youth and Food Sovereignty was perhaps the most packed and animated.

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The Banks of Pellipadugu Kalwa, where we celebrated and came together. We build the place, plenary, dialogue spaces, place to sleep with local material and local knowledge..

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We prayed to Bhutalli to bless and protect us…..with offerings of seeds brought from various corners of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. The offerings were celebrated with song and dance…

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We shared,discussed in plenary, dialogue forums, about food, WTO, politics in large and small groups… 

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We celebrated the diversity of seeds and the diversity of food…..korra upma, ragi ambili, jonna annam, fresh fish from the Godavari, ragi sankati, mutton curry, pumpkin sambar all cooked on site by our farmer and adivasi friends from the various districts….. traditional sweets and steamed tubers were served with tea as we continued our discussions.

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We exchanged Seeds…..

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‘Bhutalli’ the play, succinctly captured the current loot and plunder of resources, and people’s resistance.

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30th December: we remembered K.G. Kannabiran, civil rights activist and lawyer, who had walked this road, and gave us political spirit to move on. The silence of the forest was broken by the tweeting birds and insects who gave thanks: “Johar Kannabiran”;  The declaration of the Food Sovereignty Summit was read out and collectively passed. New energy in the air with the announcement of the formation of the Food Sovereignty Alliance. ….. A new seed sown.

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On 2nd January sitting in Venkatlaxmi’s village, where the women of the Tholakari Mahila Gotti, were putting into place final details of the launch of their Local Market for Aseel Poultry, we read an obituary in the newspaper, of the passing of G.Nammalvar– or Aiyya to all of us, on 30th December 2013. Nammalvar- he was with us at the very first gathering in 2008 where we discussed the Crises in Agriculture. That day he spent an entire afternoon with the children of Centre for Learning, Secunderabad – Rahmat, Mrinalini, Sruti, Nuvruti, Nikshit, ,..  telling them about the crop – the top part for people to eat, the mid portion for the animals to eat, and the bottom part for the soil to remain healthy. The children inspired, presented him with a painting, which he re-gifted to the community. In 2007 and 2008,  Nammalvar shared his wisdom and visited the Gond and Kollam adivasis in Adilabad, the Konda Reddy and Koya adivasis in East Godavari,  shepherds and small farmers in Nalgonda and Medak. That same year, over 20 Dalit farmers from KVB Puram and Medak visited Nammalvar’s farm in Sathyamangala, Erode.  In 2009 he was with Radha and the children of Rishi Valley School.

Unbelievably, pretty much every sangham and community gathered at this 4th Food Sovereignty Summit, had interacted with Nammalvar at some point in their journeys. We would like to believe that as we read out the Food Sovereignty Declaration on 30th December 2013, the collective spirit of a newly formed alliance, accompanied the great man in his last journey, and in turn a little bit of him continues to be strongly embedded in the alliance, and in each of us, guiding us in our commitment to this shared vision of Food Sovereignty:

The Pellipadugu[1] Declaration on Food Sovereignty

We the adivasi, dalit, pastoralist, peasant, scientist and student communities have gathered here from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, between 28th and 30th December 2013, in D. Bhimavaram village of the adivasi territories, with the collective concern to defend our sovereign right to food and the rights of mother earth.

We deliberated on the fundamental questions that concern our food: the plunder of our resources; the threats to seed sovereignty; the health of our soils; the commodification of our biodiversity, knowledge and cultures; and the destruction of our local markets by the Global Corporate industrial food complex.

For us, food is the abundance of life that mother earth provides: the diversity of grains, pulses, oil seeds, tubers, fruits, vegetables, animals, insects, fish; and the associated food cultures celebrated in our various communities. Ownership and control of land is central to our struggle for food. Markets are networks of relationships to protect, sustain and nurture our food through local reciprocal systems of exchange. They are not spaces to extract profit.

Women are leaders in the Food Sovereignty Movement. It is women who are at the frontlines of struggles for Food justice; and challenging patriarchy is an integral part of restoring Food Sovereignty.

We reaffirm the power in our peasant food webs to feed ourselves and to resist the corporate capture of our lives.

We declare that our lands, forests, water, air, diversity, seeds, knowledge and cultures are not for sale. We will resist the monetization of our lives and resources.

We assert that food security can only be met through Food Sovereignty.

We call upon the State with the following demands:

We demand that the State implement without further delay, the recognition of individual rights and community forest rights according to customary boundaries of adivasi and other traditional forest dweller communities.

We demand that the State uphold the supreme powers of the gram sabha under the Panchayat Raj (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

We demand that the State commit its resources to our autonomous local systems of production, procurement and distribution to ensure food security.

We condemn the State-Corporate nexus that has decimated our farming systems: including seeds, agronomic practices, dairy, poultry and fisheries.

We further condemn the State’s continued aggressive promotion of national and multinational Corporates to take over the last bastions of autonomous farming: adivasi food cultures and pastoralist livelihoods.

We condemn the decision of Government of India  to ratify the “Peace Clause” at the Bali round of the WTO negotiations, that trades away our sovereign right to define our food systems.

We call for a moratorium on all  ‘Free Trade Agreements’ that destroy our lives and livelihoods.

We oppose the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Food and Retail.

We strongly condemn State efforts to promote genetically modified crops and call for a moratorium on all field trials in accordance with the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee on GMOs,  appointed by the Supreme Court of India.

We oppose the global patent regime that privatises and commodifies our knowledge and biodiversity.

We denounce the false market solutions to climate change, and declare that Food Sovereignty is the only way to build resilience and in fact combat the Global Food Industrial System as a primary driver of climate change.

We call for the roll back of destructive State programs such as INSIMP, which in the name of promoting millets, threatens local biodiverse and autonomous agro-ecosystems.

We demand a halt to all monoculture plantations in our fields and forests.

We commit to the following actions:

We shall continue to defend our rights over our lands, forests, water and air.

We commit to deepening our relationships and traditions of reciprocity and collectivism as a means of solidarity with one another. This solidarity is the basis to resist the violence of the corporate food industry.

We shall build power through democratic local systems of governance to further food sovereignty.

We will use the power of our vote to raise Food Sovereignty as a political issue.

We shall shift from growing commodity monocultures to cultivating diverse food crops, through ecological and organic farming practices.

We shall save and exchange our seeds and thereby resist the corporate seed markets.

There is an interdependency between animals, crops, forests, water and other resources of the commons that has been broken by the industrialization of our food systems. We shall restore these broken links by rebuilding our indigenous animal resources, which in turn nourish and are nourished by these commons.

We shall reestablish local markets as a means to exchange our produce with one another, and to feed and support local communities.

We celebrate the spirit and commitment of young people in the food sovereignty movement.

We shall conscientiously nurture intergenerational spaces within our movements for sharing knowledge and practices for the future.

We hereby come together as a Food Sovereignty alliance between our movements, which shall advance this shared vision.

December 30th 2013

Pellipadugu Kalwa, D. Bhimavaram village,

Addateegala Mandal, East Godavari , AP

Murugamma and V.Krishnamma, Dalit Mahila Sangham, Chittoor

Pandu Dora, National Convenor, Adivasi Aikya Vedika

Shivaprasad, Convenor- Telangana, Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Adilabad

Krishnarao, Convenor- Northern Andhra , Adivasi Aikya Vedika , Vishakapatnam

Kamala, G. Satyam and P Dharmu , Adivasi Chaitanya Sangham, Adilabad

Hussain Swamy, C.H Malikaarjun and Nandeswari, Chenchu Rakshana Samiti, Mahabubnagar

Rambabu, E. Jyoti and M. Satyavati , Koitur Kutuva Sangham, Khammam

Veeraswamy and C.H Durga, Adivasi Seva Sangham, West Godavari

Venkatesh Dora, Venkatlaxmi and K. Satyavati, Girijana Deepika, East Godavari

Somalingam and K. Pandamma, Jeevam, Vishakapatnam

Jogiraju, Derala Girijana Chaitanya Sangham, Vishakapatnam

Thammaiah and , Manya Deepika, Vizianagaram

Jayprakash, Syuryakanti Yuvajana Sangham, Vizianagaram

Vykuntarao and K. Prabhavathi, Savara Sangham, Srikakulam

Adinarayana, Sri Gopi Rytu Sangham, Chittoor

Apparao and K. Narayanamma, Chinna Sanna Karu Vyavasaidarula Sangham, Vishakapatnam

Satyamma and N. Pochamma, Ottavapantala Mahila Vedika, Medak

Yadigiri and Kavita, Deccani Gorrela-Mekala Pempakadarula Sangham, Medak

Deviah, Grama Sangham, Warangal

Prof K.R. Chowdry, Hyderabad

Dr Radha Gopalan, Chittoor

Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Hyderabad

Madhusudhan, Hyderabad

Charanya R., Hyderabad

Shruti Thrayil, Pune

Deepu, Hyderabad

Rahul Ramakrishna, Hyderabad

Srikrupa, Hyderabad

Bhavana, Hyderabad

Jayant, Bangalore

Aditi Pinto, Mumbai

Sandeep K Singh, Bangalore

Sharib Ali, Kolkata

Amol, Mumbai

Siddharth, Mumbai

Alia Farouqui, Mumbai

[1]

The Pellipadagu stream is the lifeline of 12 adivasi villages nestled along its banks. This historic venue of the Food Sovereignty Summit is the site of struggle by adivasi peoples of D. Bhimavaram, Nookarai, Mallavarammamidlu, Mammidipalam, Nimmalapalam, Veerampalam  and Kovalapalam villages under the leadership of Girijana Deepika and Adivasi Aikya Vedika, to prevent the granite mining of rocks surrounding their sacred river. In 2010, the adivasi village councils passed resolutions rejecting the granite mine.

The detailed report of the summit is attached.. FS- Report