The Attappady Hills Area Development Society (AHADS) engaged in the eco-restoration and tribal empowerment has won this year’s JICA Award for persons and organisations for their meritorious contribution towards international co-operation.

President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Sadako Ogata in his letter of September 28, 2009 to S.M. Vijayanand, Chairman, AHADS said, “This year, JICA has decided to present you this award along with seven select organisations and 18 persons from the four corners of the world, with our deep appreciation for your cooperation and accomplishments.”

The ecological restoration and tribal development scheme implemented in the tribal heartland of Attappady by AHADS is already recognised as a model for the country as it is showing visible results in the most backward and ecologically damaged area.

The Kerala government is considering the implementation of a similar project for the Wayanad tribals. Some other State governments like Orissa had visited Attappady to study the project.

The government had asked AHADS to prepare a project for Wayanad as the problems of tribal development and ecological destruction are the same as in Attappady, said Director of AHADS, Vinod Kumar Unniyal.

He said the Rs. 219 crore Japan aided project in Attappady is coming to a close by March 2010. It was started in March 1996 but its physical implementation started only in 2000. It is implemented with the co-operation of the local people, particularly the tribes. It is an alternative delivery administrative development system successfully implemented to take the benefit of development to the target group.

The problem in Attappady was, though a huge amount was spent for tribal development, it was not reaching them. But the AHADS experiment has been proved that it could reach the beneficiaries.

He said the AHADS’s principle of development in close co-operation with the local people could be used for implementing the Panchayat Raj system and the projects like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The project in Attappady helped to afforest 11,0000 hectares of barren land and brought back 5000 hectares of fallow land under cultivation. It implemented soil and water conservation projects in 17,000 hectares of land.

It has also implemented Comprehensive Tribal Hamlet Development project and constructed 1056 houses for tribes and renovated 177 old houses.

Under the scheme, a hospital with 40 beds was constructed at Agali, Attappady. Hostels for tribal students were also constructed.

An amount of Rs.137.51 crore was spent till March 2008 by AHADS and generated 43 lakh man days. Sixty per cent of the man days created went to tribes and majority to the tribal women, Mr. Unniyal said.

It has created 92 User Societies, 164 Ooru Vikasana Samithies (Hamlet Development Council) and 55 Forest Management Societies.

Another major achievement was the creation of 100 Thaikula Sangoms of tribal women to fight against liquor and drugs in Attappady, he said.

More In: Kerala | National