The sub-collector of Narasaraopet issued a press release on March 2 regarding the complaints of encroachment on Edlapadu hills where Christian missionaries had erected a 40 feet Cross and thereby encroached on the Hindu religious site.
LRPF (Legal Rights Protection Forum), an organization fighting for the legal rights of indigenous people, has raised several questions and pointed out how the administration has overlooked several important factors in an attempt to unduly favor the Christians and allow the encroachment in violation of the laws of the land. LRPF has also said that the Revenue Administration failed to take the necessary steps to stop the encroachment and instead turned a blind eye to the unauthorized construction by the Roman Catholic church.
We reproduce LRPF’s mail with a timeline of incidents regarding Cross Installation by encroaching mining hill at Edlapadu.
With reference to the Press Release dated 02.03.2021 released by the Sub-Collector of Narasaraopet, we wish to bring to your notice the following instances of complaints lodged with various revenue and other government officials against encroachment and unauthorized constructions at Errakonda Hill at Edlapadu Mandal, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh. We also wish to bring to your kind notice, the acts of the Roman Catholic Church, Edlapadu Parish, Guntur Diocese which are behind the encroachments which have started on 21st October 2020.
Below is the timeline of the various developments in the matter encroachment of Errakonda Hills.
- Sub-Collector, Narasaraopet has mentioned in the Press Release that in Edlapadu village on Errakonda Hill there is a pre-existing Shrine on the said hill which belongs to RCM Church. If so whether such a Shrine has been permitted to be constructed, if so details thereof.
- It was mentioned in the Press Release that an application was submitted by RCM Church for the construction of steps to reach the existing shrine. As such how a gigantic cross of 40ft was allowed to be installed at the top of the hill? When was the application for the construction of steps submitted?
- Father Kodavati Bose has, in a Facebook post dated 26th February 2021 released a video showing the installation of the 40 ft Cross on the hill. He has also mentioned that the grand inauguration of the Cross will be taking place on 15th March and will be under the blessings of Most Rev. Bishop Bhagaiah and extended an open invitation to all to attend the event.
- On 10th November 2020, Father Kodavati Bose posted on Facebook which shows that the construction of steps has started. From the images in the said Facebook post, it is apparent that steps are yet to be constructed. What were the steps taken to stop this unauthorized construction? (Screenshot attached)
Facebook Link: 10th Nov: https://www.facebook.com/kodvati.bose/posts/2695309744055839
- On 6th December a huge prayer was conducted by father Kodavati Bose on the above hill which shows that a large tract of the land was leveled and preparations were underway to install the cross. It is very apparent that no attempt has been made to stop the encroachment on the above hill and its destruction at any stage. (Screenshot attached).
Facebook Link: 6th Dec: https://www.facebook.com/kodvati.bose/posts/2716391608614319
- It is inconceivable that large earth-moving equipment working for days together at the hill was not visible to revenue officials.
- On 21 October 2020 Major Work namely Rahadhari Maatha PunyaKshetram was announced by Mr. Kodvati Bala Subhash Chandrabose on his Facebook. So it is apparent that it is a well-planned operation to occupy the hill. (Screenshot attached).
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/kodvati.bose/posts/2677604992492981
- On 5th Jan 2021, a complaint was lodged with Tahsildar of Edlapadu Mandal, Guntur District by one Mr. V Vamshidhar and two others stating that unauthorized constructions were taking place on Errakonda Hills and a request was made to the Tahsildar of Edlapadu Mandal to take steps to stop forthwith all unauthorized constructions on the said hills. Again on 12th Jan 2021, a similar complaint was lodged with Tahsildar, Edlapadu Mandal stating that illegal constructions were still going on at Errakonda Hills and that previous representations to officials by letter as well as the telephone were not acted upon. Copies of the complaint were marked to Collector & District Magistrate, Guntur, AP, Principal Secretary, Department of Mines & Geology, Government of AP, and the Chief Secretary, Government of AP. (Copies of the complaints have been enclosed).
- In his video dated 6th January 2021 posted on his Facebook account, Mr. Kodavati Bose mentioned that complaints have been received against construction taken up by his parish on Errakonda hills and he was asked to stop construction. Later, he constructed the revenue officials, he has commenced the construction again. Despite knowing that their constructions were unauthorized illegal and objections were raised with authorities regarding these constructions, the said father Kodavati Bose has gone ahead with the unauthorized constructions. In his speech father, Kodavati Bose mentioned that he has taken permission from AD Mines and also informed the MRO of his intention to go ahead with the construction of Rahadhaari Maatha Shrine and the erection of the cross at the top.
Facebook Link to Video: https://www.facebook.com/kodvati.bose/posts/2739336782986468
- Meanwhile, on 18th Jan 2021, the Public Information Officer (Deputy Tahsildar, Edlapadu) in a reply to an RTI query replied that
- The Extent of the Errakonda Hills is 85.5 acres as per the surveyor’s report
- No Permissions of any kind were issued by Tahsildhar Edlapadu Mandal for the construction of any religious structures on Errakonda Hills
- Action will be taken as per Encroachment Act 1905 on any construction noticed on Errakonda Hills. Despite assurance given in the RTI reply, it is obvious that encroachments and construction were allowed to go on unhindered. (Copy of the same has been attached).
As such, the Revenue Administration of the area was fully aware of the unauthorized construction indulged in by Roman Catholic Church, Edlapadu Parish, Guntur Diocese. Yet, no action has been taken any steps to stop the destruction of the hills, removal of encroachments, and stopping unauthorized constructions which have caused a great damage to the ecology and environment of Errakonda Hills. The lush green hills filled with a variety of flora and fauna have been destroyed and offenses under Environmental Protection Act, 1986 have been committed.
Thus, various laws of the land have been violated with impunity. Yet, the District administration has turned a blind eye to all these happenings right from 21st October 2020 till date. Even the present press release in the name of Sub Collector, Narasaraopet has come because the issue attracted wide attention on the Social Media, but not because of any serious intention on the part of the District Administration to take action against the culprits and protect the hills from encroachment and upholding the law of the land.
(Featured Image Source: LRPF)
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