Tribal organisations, employees seek its sustained functioning
Various organisations of tribespeople have flayed the State government's decision to close down the Attappady Hill Area Development Society (AHADS) project, described as a model eco-restoration and tribal development scheme in the country.
They took out a march to the AHADS office at Agali on Tuesday to protest against the decision.
Local Self-government Department Principal Secretary S.M. Vijayanand had, on March 1, issued an order (GO. No. M.S-74\2011\LSGD) in this regard.
As many as 160 of the 274 employees, a majority of them from tribal communities, were retrenched. The terminations and retentions were done without following any rules, the employees alleged.
The Finance Minister had allotted Rs.8 crore for AHADS in the last budget. The government order said, “AHADS was set up for the implementation of the Japan-aided project for the eco-restoration of Attappady. The project was formally launched in November 1995 and officially came to an end in March 2010. However, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) allowed time for completion of certain works already taken up till 2010. The work related to the Total Hamlet Development Project (THDP) and completion of water supply schemes are almost over. The completion of THDP will be by using State funds in selected villages.”
Girijan Sevak Samithy (GSS), an organisation of tribal people, had said that the winding up of AHADS will push tribal people into and misery. The project had sustained tribespeople for 15 years by providing employment, houses etc.
GSS president U.C. Kunjan said the project should continue as eco-restoration had been completed only on a small area.
Housing, health and other needs remained unaddressed, he said. Attappady Samrakshana Samithy secretary M. Sukumaran said more than 300 tribal forest watchers were not getting salaries for one year now. AHADS had engaged them from the social forestry project.
The employees' organisations of AHADS are planning to organise an indefinite ‘satyagraha' from March 11 to protest against the retrenchment.
Complaint to poll panel
They had filed a complaint with the Election Commission as the retrenchment order reached Attappady on March 3, after the elections were declared.
Assembly Speaker K. Radhakrishnan had recently said that the Attappady Wasteland Comprehensive Environmental Conservation Project, implemented in the last 10 years, should be continued as it brought about qualitative changes in the lives of tribespeople.