Writers at the release of a report on problems of tribal people question relevance of urban development model in Agency areas

Development need not necessarily mean the urban way of living as we know it, but development in tribal areas should seek to protect and promote the unique lifestyles and culture which is prevalent there, speakers said at the release of a treatise on problems of tribals in Agency areas. This is the third in the series of ‘Problems and People’s Struggles in Kalingaseema’ brought out by Vamsadhara Publications, and focused on a development paradigm and its relevance in tribal areas.

Releasing the report authored by tribal activist Juvvada Suryanarayana, K N Malliswari of the Democratic Writers Forum called for a greater focus on providing basic amenities to villages and tribal hamlets in the Agency areas.

The development process should prioritise provision of connectivity, education and health. She questioned the relevance of urban needs of development in Agency areas and emphasised the need for evolving a tribal-centric development model.

The rights of tribal people are enshrined in the Constitution but the officials and the ruling class are systematically denying them an opportunity to enjoy these rights, human rights activist A Annapurna said.

Deprivation of basic rights should also be perceived as a crime and should attract punishment, she suggested.

Historical perspective

Critically evaluating the treatise, noted writer Attada Appala Naidu said that the work would have been more useful if it had included historical background. Tribal welfare was noted as an issue to be addressed only after the Srikakulam Movement, he recalled.

The government has a number of welfare schemes in place and expenditures are also booked under it, but unfortunately all the expenditure is only on paper and nothing really reaches the beneficiaries, he said. There is no compulsion to implement the welfare schemes properly, he lamented. The ruling class is out to weaken the tribal people and throw open their natural resources for exploitation by capitalists, he rued. Development in the Agency area has systematically eliminated the tribal people from their habitations, Rama Rao Dora of the Adivasi Rachayitula Sangham said. There is development in Araku and Paderu, but unfortunately the tribal people and the original inhabitants have been edged out, he pointed out. Chalasani Prasad of Virasam and Jayagopal also spoke.

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