Press Trust Of India / New Delhi February 25, 2006
The ministries of tribals affairs and environment and forests have decided to develop 2700 tribal forest villages across the country with the twin objective of forest conservation and welfare of local people, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Development of NE Region P R Kyndiah said here today.
“These forest villages are the most backward and lack even the basic minimum infrastructure. People living in most of these villages are totally dependent on forests for their livelihood and survival. They are poorest of the poor. We have taken up a number of initiatives to improve their socio-economic conditions,” he said.
The initiative includes programmes related to livelihood and infrastructure like schools, ashramshalas, dispensaries, roads, minor irrigation and healthcare, he added.
Minister for Environment and Forests NN Meena said the government would speed up development in forest areas, to cover the largest possible population of tribals and forest dwellers.
“Development and conservation should go hand in hand. This is a constitutional requirement of a welfare state like India,” Meena said.
Kyndiah said during the 10th Five Year Plan period, a sum of Rs 450 crore had been allocated for development of 2700 tribal forest villages.
After receiving reports of unnatural deaths of primitive tribal groups, the Centre had decided to provide them the benefits of insurance coverage in a phased manner under the “Janshree Scheme” of the Life Insurance Corporation of India.
“All the families of the primitive tribal group population, which numbers about five lakh, are targeted for insurance coverage in 2005-06 and 2006-07,” he said.
Observing that tribals are mostly original inhabitants of forest lands, Meena said the living style of tribals and forest dwellers had been consistent with forest and environmental conservation, as brought out in the rich repository of traditional knowledge systems and practices of these people.
“The government is of the view that safeguarding interests of the poorest of the poor and the marginalised dwellers of the forest villages can be ensured by providing basic and essential developmental facilities and sense of security in sensitive areas without compromising on environmental considerations,” he said.