Tribal youths undertake a ‘padayatra’ in the interior areas

A group of Girijan youths recently undertook a ‘padayatra’ in the interior areas of a couple of mandals in the Visakha Agency to create awareness among the Girijans about the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, the Forest Rights Act, the Right to Education and the Right to Information Acts and the people’s rights for work and on land.

The nine-day ‘padayatra’ by 76 youths, including a Girijan girl, two non-Girijan men and a non-Girijan woman in G. Madugula and Chintapalli mandals was received well by the locals who felt some benefit was done to them as they came to know more details about the NREGS, FRA and the other Acts. The ‘padayatra’ also brought to light the poor state of schools in the interior areas of the Agency which lacked supervision as they are not easily accessible, said general secretary of the AP Vyavasaya Vrittidarula Union and an active leader of the Visakha Zilla Upadhi Coolila, Metla Sangham (an organisation of labourers and mates working under the NREGS) P.S. Ajay Kumar.

As the ‘yatra’ moved along its path covering 211 habitations under 15 gram panchayats, the youths came to know that most of the schools are not being run regularly or just not functioning. The schools belong to MPP, gram panchayat and satellite schools, among others.

Schools at Indugal in Pedalochali gram panchayat and Mugamarri and Lakkapadu under Vanthala gram panchayat are not functioning while some schools like the one at Mettapadu under Vanthala gram panchayat is open on and off. At Karjapalli in the same panchayat people are not aware that a school has been sanctioned for their village.

The government teacher or the volunteers are not attending schools regularly and the mid-day meal scheme too suffered due to their indifference. The situation is no different in schools under A. Sanivaram gram panchayat in Chintapalli mandal.

The few exceptions are the schools at Vedurupalli and Meghapalem under Guduthru panchayat in G. Madugula mandal. The people’s monitoring committee is ensuing that the school at Vedurupalli is run properly.

Pamphlets distributed

The youths during their ‘padayatra’ distributed pamphlets to people and pasted stickers on the doors of villagers with demands and information about the government programmes. The main objective of the ‘yatra’, apart from creating awareness among people, was to increase the daily wages under NREGS to Rs. 175, as per the GO No. 73 issued by the Labour Department during July last, Mr. Ajay Kumar said. The Girijans also asked the government to change the NREGS rules to suit the Girijans.

The youths distributed F-1 forms, which are group applications for work under NREGS and for allotment of forest lands under FR Act. They collected applications from 152 groups (representing 2,370 people seeking wages) for NREGS works and applications for 1,313 claims over 4,124.89 acres of forest land on which they are doing cultivation. Group meetings and meetings with villagers at every village were held at several places and the ‘padayatra’ participants were hosted by villagers.

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