June 1, 2012
Press Conference by Concerned Citizens’ Collective at Raipur New Guest House on 30-5-2012
This Press Conference has been called by the Concerned Citizens’ Collective(CCC) consisting of the following members:
1. Dr. B.D. Sharma, IAS(Rtd), Former Commissioner for SCs and STs;
2. Prof. Amit Bhattacharyya, West Bengal;
3. Prof. J.P.Rao, Hyderabad;
4. Vijay Lapalikar, Maharastra;
5. Zulekha Jabin, Chhattisgarh;
6 Rona Wilson, Delhi;
7. Jatinder Singh, Punjab;
8. Dr. Ritupan Goswami, Delhi.
The main purpose of the CCC was to get first-hand information about the concrete reality of Abujmaad—the living conditions of the adivasi peoples living there from times immemorial, whether changes for the better had taken place in their lives during the last sixty years after the end of colonial rule. The field investigation took place during May 24-29. The areas visited by the members are Shonpur, Orchha and Kachchapal.
Preliminary Findings by the Concerned Citizens’ Collective(CCC):
A) The overall well being of the Abujmarias is under severe threat. Malnourishment of the people there who are around 35,000 as per the 2011 Census has almost pushed them to extinction.
B) Reducing agrarian circle of Penda(shifting) cultivation from roughly about 70 years in the yesteryears to less than 5 years resting in the loss of the soil.
C) Whatever expansion in the form of settled agriculture in the region is without any state support from government departments like agriculture, irrigation etc.
D) The easily available resources like bamboo which can be developed into cottage industries has been left underutilized.
E) The dwindling PDS system in the form of essentials like rice has become dearer for the tribals with restricted availability from distant centres at Kurasnar and Kokanjhar.
F) Lack of availability of drinking water even after 60 years.
G) Limited educational opportunities notwithstanding commendable efforts from institutions like Ramkrishna Mission.
H) Lack of electricity in almost all the villages.
The issues we have highlighted are nothing new. Yet they remain the same. This is indicative of the fact that the miserable living conditions of the adivasis are going from bad to worse. In such a scenario, the situation cannot be salvaged without keeping the adivasi at the centre of whatever planning the government initiates.
Sd. by Dr. B. D. Sharma on behalf of the Concerned Citizens’ Collective (CCC)