For the first time, the group fields candidates in Araku and Paderu Assembly constituencies

Neglected by the powers-that-be for generations, some of the activists of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) have fielded candidates from their tribes for the first time from Araku and Paderu Assembly constituencies in Visakhapatnam district.

Their population put at 1.58 lakh in 2011 census is estimated to have gone up to two lakh. The group is yet to get the fruits of development due to the fact that they live in inaccessible hilly terrains. They carry out podu cultivation and cultivate pulses, millets and paddy on hill slopes.

The group has fielded Buridi David from Araku and Vantala Satyanarayana from Paderu. Some of the group include Parigi Poraja, Gadaba and Koudh. The literacy level among them is just 1.4 per cent.

“For several decades, they have been discriminated in extending the welfare measures. There are no roads, schools, education and health facilities. Even 150 days of guaranteed employment under the rural employment schemes is not being provided to our people,” says T.V.S. Ram of Integrated Tribal Development Society.

Mr. David says under the Forest Rights Act, individual pattas are not being given to the group members under the pretext that they would not fit into the norms stipulated for allotment of pattas.

Though there is a provision for special reservation in jobs, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) formed to improve the socio-economic conditions of 11 Agency mandals, there are no government jobs for 90 per cent of the educated in the group. Under Maa Thota programme, only a few hamlets have been provided solar power.

Mr. David says though they have no resources to cover all the villages, they are mainly concentrating on reaching the areas where the group members live and exuded confidence that they would hold gram sabhas and vote en masse in favour of them.

Mining issue

Bauxite mining has been kept under abeyance following intervention of Union Minister of Tribal Affairs and Panchayat Raj V. Kishore Deo. There is fear if it is allowed it will displace the group in Araku area. “We want to empower the group so that their interests are protected,” says K. Williams, a tribal rights activist from Dumbriguda.

AP Girijana Sangham leader Killo Surendra, who is in fray from Araku on CPI (M) ticket, says their demands for sanction of Antyodaya card to every family of the group, sanction of Indiramma houses, separate hostels, and coffee and silver oak plantations have fallen on deaf ears.

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