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Adivasi Rights

Rights of Adivasi (Indigenous People)

Situation of Adivasi in Gujarat
Of total population, the population of scheduled tribes (ST - also called ‘tribal’ and ‘Adivasi’) is 15%, i.e. about 75 lakhs in Gujarat. In Gujarat 28 scheduled tribes are enlisted and of them 8 are primitive tribes, mainly belong to Gir, Barda and Alech forests (mainly Junagadh and Jamnagar district in western Gujarat) and Ahmedabad district in central Gujarat. About 21 tribes are spread over 12 districts (north-eastern belt) in Gujarat.

The major problems of the tribes in north Gujarat (Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Panchmahal, Dahod and Vadodara districts) are – lower level of literacy, unemployment,  high degree of migration in search of livelihood, no access to forest or forest produce and high incidences of sickle cell anemia.

The tribes of south Gujarat (Bharuch, Narmada, Surat, Tapi, Valsad, Navsari, Dang districts) have reported higher level of literacy but unemployment,  high degree of migration in search of livelihood, high incidences of sickle cell anemia and little access to forest or forest produce are persistent problems. Gandhians have contributed to higher level of literacy but the major lacuna has been innovativeness and meaningful employment for these adivasis.

The adivasis in South Gujarat face atrocities by forest officials very frequently and has reported highest number of displace people due to development projects like large scale dams on Tapi and Narmada as well as industrial estates as part of golden corridor of Gujarat. This has also resulted into loss of land, loss of access and control over forest and minor forest produce and the Tribals have turned into unskilled labourers, working in unorganized sectors. Therefore their living conditions have worsened, nutrition level has gone significantly down (at least 60-70% are malnourished) as per National Sample Survey Report of 2007.

The agriculture has been a main economic activity but due to large scale dams and wider forest cover, most of the farmers are marginal or small with small and medium landholding. But land alienation among adivasis is very rampant across north-eastern belt of Gujarat. It is reported that officially about 7-8% Tribals are alienated from land; informal survey reveal this extent to 15%. (Ganguly: 2000)

The Government of Gujarat has taken steps like launching JFM, Vanbandhu Yojana and such development programmes but its effect is limited in providing employment and better quality of life.

Panchayati Raj Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1998 (PESA) was expected to provide opportunity to adivasis for local self-governance but it has not been implemented by the government. In this situation, tribal development has remained centralized and largely government dependent.
Unfortunately, the industrial houses have not thought of engaging tribal educated youth meaningfully in respective units.

HDRC and Adivasi Sarvangi Vikas Sangh (ASVS)

Background: Issues of Adivasis and capacitating ASVS
ASVS (Adivasis Sarvangi Vikas Sangh) under the aegis of Behavioural Science Centre, Ahmedabad has been working since 1994, was registered in 1996 and been functioning autonomously since August 2009.

HDRC’s staff members are working very closely with ASVS staff members for carrying out various activities leading to ensure rights of Adivasis. The major tasks of HDRC staff is to build capacity of local workers, providing direction to the programmes and activities carried out and undertake capacity and perspective building of Adivasi leaders, to enhance coordination between ASVS and women’s cooperative for effective functioning.

Initially it was working in 60 villages primarily with Dungari Bhil and Dungari garasiya tribes of Danta taluka, Banaskantha district in North Gujarat. Danta and Amirgadh do not belong to scheduled areas (Schedule V of Indian Constitution). Over the years, ASVS has evolved as an organization; it used to take up development activities (promoting livelihood through watershed management, building check-dams, implementing drought-relief programme, dairy cooperative, availing benefit of government schemes and programmes covered under Tribal Sub-plan, etc).

Since 2003, the area of operation has spread over to more than 310 villages in 6 taluka (blocks), i.e. Danta and Amirgadh talukas of Banaskantha district while Khedbrahma, Vijaynagar, Bhiloda and Megharaj taluka of Sabarkantha district. Since then, our activities are focused mainly on two aspects of Adivasi rights, namely, to access to forest, minor forest produce (MFP) and right to cultivate forest land. As per our mission and tradition, we also have focused on Adivasi leadership development and large scale mobilization and seeking benefits of government schemes and programmes by Adivasis in large numbers for their development.

HDRC has started and established Women’s Saving & Credit Cooperative (Shri hadad Adivasi Mahila Bachat and Dhiran Mandali) in 1997 and since 1st October 2008, it is also functioning autonomously. The then, its membership was 1,265 from 57 villages; total saving was Rs 14,93,280.50/-, out of which Rs. 10,92,588/- was given as credit - Rs. 671012 were recovered while Rs. 42,0576/- yet to be recovered.

 


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