March 12, 2010 2:26:05 am
Former kings of central Gujarat discuss socio-economic conditions of the community
The nouveau riche in the community have become the new oppressors,the former rulers of central Gujarat said at a seminar discussing the socio-economic conditions of the tribals,on Thursday.
The seminar was attended by the descendents of former rulers of eight tribal principalities,land revenue experts,sociologists,historians,retired forest officers and activists. The delegates discussed the issues of migration,depletion of forest cover in the tribal belt and land distribution.
Former MLA Urvashi Devi,the ruler of the erstwhile Baria province of Dahod said that earlier sahukars (money lenders) exploited tribals by lending money at a high interest rate of 24 per cent. But now it is newly rich class of tribal government servants and tribal businessmen who lend them money at a very high rate of interest. This has caused many tribals to migrate, she said.
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She added that the construction of roads especially in areas such as Ratan Mahal in Devgadh Baria has led to the loss of forest cover.
Kamakhyasinh Parmar,the former prince of Sanjeli principality in Dahod,said that after the Forest Rights Act of 2005 came into being,the land distribution has been uneven.
Forest areas are depleting fast in these areas,while the poor tribal farmers are forced to migrate because of the various social commitments and large borrowings with huge interest rates, Parmar added.
The former rulers said the local tribal politicians have not worked for people. Schemes like NREGS are good for farmers. But the politicians in various areas of Dahod are minting money with the help of the local administration, said Kamakhyasinh of Sanjeli.
Former Jambughoda king of Panchmahals,Vikramsinh Chauhan,however,said the forest cover in his area has increased as not a single tree has been cut. We have made sure the trees in Jambughoda are not cut,not even by the forest officers. This step has led to the growth of the forest cover leading to less migration, added Chauhan.
Noted sociologist Dr Lancey Lobo,also the Director of the Vadodara-based Centre for Culture and Development said the exercise of discussing the issues of the tribals was a part of the project,which is done for the past two years to make policy recommendation to the government.
We have carried extensive surveys of the forest land through various means including satellite maps. A lot of new changes have come to these regions since the time they were ruled by these erstwhile royals. We are trying to study the impact of these changes, said Lobo.
The erstwhile royals of Bansda,Chhotaudepur,Jambughoda,Baria,Sanjeli,Poshina,Jambughoda and Vijaynagar attended the seminar.
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