Sustainable livelihoods being uprooted in Kawal

Adivasis from Kawal Tiger Reserve core area are trained in other livelihoods

Updated - August 19, 2019 08:10 am IST

Published - August 18, 2019 11:01 pm IST - RAMPUR (NIRMAL DISTRICT)

Villagers of Maddi Padaga watching from a distance as forest officials inspect the site of relocation of villages in Kadem mandal.

Villagers of Maddi Padaga watching from a distance as forest officials inspect the site of relocation of villages in Kadem mandal.

The villagers of Revojipet, Petherpu and Kotha Maddi Padaga in Kadem mandal of Nirmal district are happy that authorities will soon relocate as many as 96 aboriginal Raj Gond and Naikpod families from Maisampet and Rampur villages from the core area of Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) to a site close to their habitations. They are expecting the incoming Adivasis to work as labourers in their fields and help them tide over the severe shortage of farm hands they are constrained with.

The expectation would certainly come true as the aboriginal people are being trained in such work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) at the cost of their traditional livelihoods. While the Raj Gonds are adept at farm work, the 37 Naikpod families of Rampur cultivate just over 13 acres cumulatively and have been asked to shun the traditional livelihood through making of bamboo mats and baskets and instead adapt themselves to physical labour.

Authorities are also relocating over 190 Raj Gond and Naikpod Adivasi families from Allinagar and Dongapalli from Jannaram mandal of Mancherial district to a site about 3 km away from the mandal headquarters close to river Godavari. The relocation, involving offer ₹ 10 lakh per family as lump sum compensation in cash or offer of cultivable land and residential houses in a properly constructed housing colony are part of the KTR management plan to make the habitat safer for tiger movement.

Farm labour

Of the 37 families of Rampur, 10 have already left the village to work as farm labourers elsewhere. The villagers have agreed to quit the traditional activity in anticipation of a better world.

Gade Narsavva was in fact ready to adopt agriculture as a livelihood activity as it holds better income prospects. “The tribals should adjust to new realities as bamboo extraction from KTR cannot be allowed in the interest of its management,” observed Jannaram Forest Divisional Officer V. Tirumal Rao as he talked of the initiatives being taken by the Forest Department including offer of about 200 days of assured work under MGNREGS and the department’s own schemes to make the transition for the tribal communities rather smooth

“If the Naikpods get weaned away from bamboo work, the only option left to them will be to work on others’ fields as labourers. I am sure the government can provide bamboo, their raw material, at cheaper rates to the few tribal families to help them continue with their traditional source of livelihood in the new settlement which is outside KTR itself,” suggested a researcher, on conditions of anoymity, who has studied the issue.

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