Socio-economic problems still plague tribal Gujarat

The Narendra Modi government has acknowledged the persistence of poverty among the tribal population in the state and has admitted that various socio-economic problems still haunt tribal Gujarat to a large extent.

Written by Gaurav Sharma | Ahmedabad | Published: February 10, 2009 3:21 am

The Narendra Modi government has acknowledged the persistence of poverty among the tribal population in the state and has admitted that various socio-economic problems still haunt tribal Gujarat to a large extent.

These findings have been mentioned in a dossier recently published by the Tribal Development Department on completion of 500 days of the Chief Minister’s Ten point Programme – ‘Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana’.

The flagship programme seeks to enable the tribal regions to merge with mainstream development by bridging the gaps between the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) blocks and other parts of Gujarat,by allocating Rs 15,000 crore over a period of five years.

The dossier mentions that literacy among tribal families is 20 per cent less than the state average,though the government claims that the ‘Kanya Kelavani Yatra Programme’ launched in low literacy ITDP areas is expected to improve the situation in the coming years.

Also representation of tribal families in the state’s BPL list is 2.5 times more than other categories. The backwardness of the tribal areas can be gauged from the fact that the Cowlagi Committee’s list of most backward talukas in the state predominate the ITDP talukas.

A recent survey by the Taleem Research Foundation also showed that lack of awareness is a major bottleneck in improving the outreach of government schemes in the state.

Moving to the food intake issues,the government has admitted that food insecurity and malnutrition is a common phenomenon in the tribal areas. The income levels are so low that starch-based food is their main intake,which leads to poor nutrition.

The dossier adds that low access to credit by the population even after a plethora of programmes,has given mixed results so far.

As the single source of livelihood,traditional farm incomes are not enough to meet even subsistence needs. As such,poor tribal families in Gujarat are forced to combine traditional cultivation with the collection of minor forest produce,maintaining small livestock and migration to urban areas for wage labour during the lean season.

Recent studies indicate that nearly 30 per cent of Gujarat’s tribal population temporarily migrates every year.

The official dossier also enlists the observations by the World Bank regarding the four ways in which public services are failing the poor tribal households in Gujarat: There is very little expenditure on the poor as regards health and education; the development funds do not always reach the frontline provider; incentives for effective service delivery are weak; and the poor are unable to generate adequate demand for various services.

‘Aims and claims under the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana’
‘Employment and Economic Development’

* Quality and sustainable employment for 5 lakh tribal families with income per household reaching a minimum of Rs 30,000 per annum
* Setting up Youth Employment Exchange under the PPP model to cater to over 1,20,000 beneficiaries
* Development of 13 tribal towns to act as growth engines for the surrounding tribal hinterland
* Computerised Project Management System and use of Satellite Communication Group facilities for speedy coverage
* 50 per cent of all credit to females under the scheme

‘Irrigation’
* Promoting low-risk and high productivity crops in the ITDP talukas through organic farming,biotechnology and diversified agriculture,for example,the Wadi programme and Project Sunshine involving 30,000 farmers in Dahod and Panchmahals districts
* Deepening of village ponds,Lift Irrigation schemes and construction of check dams (nearly 3,016 up till now) to support irrigation in ITDP areas

‘Education and Health’
* ‘Navodaya’ or ‘Eklavya’ type residential schools in each tribal taluka,including 24 new residential schools for girls in designated low-literacy pockets
* Upgrading the existing Ashram Shalas to Class XII level from the prevailing Class I-VII level
* Extension of the ‘Dudh Sanjeevani’ programme supplying fortified flavoured milk,and the ‘Chiranjeevi Scheme’ for reducing Maternal Mortality Rate,to all ST families
* A state-wide integrated health initiative – ‘Nirogi Balak Campaign’ being launched in the Scheduled Areas

‘Housing,Water and Roads’
* Housing to ST families,with priority to Primitive Tribe Groups,under the Indira Awas Yojana and the Sardar Awas Yojana
* Females to be given joint ownership
* All ST families to get safe drinking water,with 25 per cent having access to piped water supply
* Development of at least 500 km of commercial road in the tribal areas under the yojana

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