G. Prabhakaran

Scheme for eco-restoration and tribal empowerment

Benefits of development taken to target group

Task force to examine future role of AHADS

PALAKKAD: The State government is planning to extend the Rs. 219-crore Japan-aided eco-restoration and tribal development project implemented in Palakkad by the Attappady Hill Area Development Society (AHADS) to Wayanad.

The government has asked AHADS to prepare a project for Wayanad, as the problems of tribal welfare and ecological destruction are similar to Attappady.

The Attappady project will come to a close in March 2010. It was launched in March 1996, but its physical implementation began only in 2000. It is implemented with the co-operation of the local people, particularly tribesfolk.

V.K. Uniyal, project director, AHADS, told The Hindu that the project was an alternative delivery administrative development system intended to take the benefits of development to the target group. The problem earlier was that though a huge amount was spent on tribal development, the benefits did not reach the target group. The AHADS experiment proved that it could be taken to the beneficiaries. The State government is now planning to implement the AHADS project for the empowerment of the tribes in Wayanad, he said.

Task force

Mr. Uniyal said a task force headed by Secretary to the government S.M. Vijayanand has been formed to examine the future role of AHADS and to utilise its expertise in human and social development. The AHADS principle of development in co-operation with the local people can be effectively used to implement the Panchayati Raj system and projects such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, he said. AHADS can also provide the technical support to implement these grassroot-level development projects and use its vast infrastructure facilities for training and research.

The project in Attappady helped in the afforestation of 11,000 hectares of barren land and resumed 5,000 hectares of fallow land under cultivation. It implemented soil and water conservation projects in 17,000 hectares of land. A comprehensive Tribal Hamlet Development project was implemented and 1,056 houses were built for tribesfolk besides renovating 177 houses. Under the scheme, a hospital with 40 beds was constructed at Agali, Attappady.