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Taking stock: central team to visit strife-torn tribal areas

A three-member team from the central government will be in the state early next month to take stock of the development in its tribal areas.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
January 24, 2009 1:30:28 am

A three-member team from the central government will be in the state early next month to take stock of the development in its tribal areas.

This follows a report sent to Youth Congress president Rahul Gandhi by the state’s Congress leadership. The Opposition feels the backward areas of West Bengal have been forever shortchanged by the state government.

Rahul Gandhi had asked for a recce report by the Congress here following the tribal unrest in Lalgarh last November.

Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said on Friday that the Union team would comprise two joint secretaries from the Rural Development ministry and an advisor in the the Planning Commission. Chakrabarti said: “The team will visit tribal-dominated districts of Birbhum,Bankura and Purulia on February 6 and 7.”

State Congress leader Amitava Chakraborty,who had prepared the report,said he was excited at the imminent visit. He added: “We are happy to do something for the underprivileged tribals. The West Bengal Pradesh Youth Congress,with me as its chief,visited Lalgarh recently. My team is called the Aam Admi Ke Sepoy.”

In November,the state Congress had requested Gandhi to visit the area and see for himself how tribals were being “tortured by the police and the CPI(M).” In a letter,Congress Legislature Party leader Manas Bhuniya appealed to Gandhi to send a high-powered team to trouble-torn Lalgarh before his visit.

The report gave details of the alleged torture and police atrocities on tribals in the area. Bhuniya had also requested Gandhi to raise the issue in Parliament. The report highlighted that no road had been sanctioned under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana here,or electricity provided under the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme. Homes have not been built either under the Indira Awaas Yojna and tribals had only got three to four days of work in 2007 under the NREGA – but not even a day in 2008.

The report states the ‘below poverty line’ list is erroneous and villagers of Schedule Tribes had not benefitted from schemes for the aged and widows. The report states: “The struggle in Lalgarh was a protest against years of neglect by the CPI(M) government. It was against atrocities by a callous police force and also against the apathy of the entire administrative machinery towards their plight.”

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