Welfare assistance worth Rs. 9.18 crore was distributed to over 800 beneficiaries from the Toda, Kota, Paniya, Irula, Kurumba and Kaatunaiken tribal groups.

It was a bonanza for members of the six primitive tribal groups in the Blue Mountains on Sunday.

At a camp organised here by the Department of Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare and billed as the first of its kind in the district, a new dimension was added to tribal development.

Welfare assistance worth Rs. 9.18 crore was distributed to over 800 beneficiaries. While it included tractors worth Rs. 7.50 lakh each to 10 tribal self-help groups and power tillers worth Rs. 1.47 lakh each to 89 families those receiving them were Todas, Kotas, Paniyas, Irulas, Kurumbas and Kaatunaikens.

A visibly pleased Nilgiris Collector P. Sankar, who had facilitated the programme, said that the objective was to make the sons of the soil part of the development process in the district and State levels.

Qualities

Pointing out that the rich and hoary culture of the Primitive Tribal Groups enhances the beauty of the Nilgiris, he listed their qualities and added that they live in harmony with Nature.

Stating that another bonanza worth about Rs. 8.3 crore awaits them, Mr. Sankar exhorted them to send their children to schools.

While Rajya Sabha member K.R. Arjunan, MLA M. Buddhichandran and others adverted to schemes being implemented by the government for the uplift of the downtrodden and others belonging to the marginalised sections of the society, representatives of the six tribal groups acknowledged the efforts being made to draw them into the mainstream.

Speaking to The Hindu, B. Pushpakumar, secretary of the Primitive Tribals Council, said, “in sharing the benefits there were no differences among the groups.”

Challenges

A beneficiary K.K. Kambateeswaran of Kollimalai referred to the challenges confronting agriculture and said that accessories like tractors and power tillers will help them deal with labour shortage.

“The fruits of this scheme can be seen in about six months,” he declared. By way of showing their appreciation for the gesture of the government, the tribals staged a cultural programme.

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