People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 18, 2010



CPI(M) Seeks

Special Package for Tribals


Ch Narasinga Rao


BRINDA Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, has demanded from the central government a special package for tribal people of the country which would cover issues of housing, special schemes for tribal women, self-help groups, compensation for the loss of livelihood in the collection of forest produce, and fair wages for their labour and fair price for their forest produce.

The CPI(M) leader was on a four-day tour of tribal regions in Andhra Pradesh recently to study the living conditions of the tribals. This is being done in the run-up to a National Convention on �Tribal Rights� that is scheduled to be held under the aegis of the CPI(M) central committee at New Delhi  in June 2010. She is also touring the states of West Bengal, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tripura and Maharashtra.

During her tour, Brinda Karat addressed a number of big public meetings as also small group meetings of local tribal people in the tribal areas of Srikakulam,Vizianagaram Visakhapatnam and Khammam districts. She spent time with many tribals of interior tribal villages and spoke to them about their conditions.




In her first leg of tour, Karat visited the tribal areas of Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. In the tribal villages of Bhadragiri and Kurupam area, which are faced with the menace of wild elephants attacking humans. She met the family members of the victims who died in the wild elephants' attacks and expressed her sympathy. She demanded that the state government must give adequate compensation to the victim families as also provide a job to at least one member of each such families.

She then interacted with the tribal people of the area and enquired about  their living conditions and economic conditions. The majority of them complained about the NRGEA scheme being not properly implemented. Later, addressing the tribals, Brinda Karat demanded from the government immediate hike in the daily wages being paid in the tribal areas under the scheme because the tribals have to trek long distances from their hamlets to come to the work place. Also because the working conditions in these areas are much worse than the plain areas. She also demanded that pattas of land must be issued to the tribal people immediately. She assured them that these  issues will be raised in the parliament by the CPI(M).




Brinda Karat extensively dealt with the illegal bauxite mining issue during her visit to Jarrela village of G K Veedhi mandal in Vishakapatnam district. Addressing  a public meeting organised by A P Girijana Sangham here, she said that both the central and state governments are not caring about the lives of poor and innocent tribal people who are exposed to the dangers of illegal bauxite mining. �It is a totally illegal act to allow mining of bauxite in the Visakha agency area as all laws have been violated. The National Environment Appellate Authority and leaders at Delhi should change their blinkered vision and see what is really happening here. They should come down and listen to what people are saying�, she said evoking a huge roar from the crowd in local dialect 'STOP Bauxite mining'. The tribals, who are endowed with rich forests, will be displaced and forced to live a life of destitution, she added.

Karat attacked the government for deliberately not giving pattas to tribals in this area so that they can be thrown away from their lands without the need of paying any compensation or making any arrangement for rehabilitation. �This is the height of cunning being exhibited by an elected government. Is this democracy?� she questioned. She pointed out how no consent was taken from the tribal people, and no Grama Sabha (villagers meeting) was conducted.

There are many villages in these north coastal Andhra districts abutting the agency area with majority population of tribals and they have not been included in the scheduled area. As a result, the tribals of these villages are deprived of all government schemes and are living in a wretched state. In most of these villages, the tribal lands are purchased by non tribals at meager rates as the 1/70 Act does not apply in non scheduled area. Karat demanded that all the non scheduled tribal villages should be merged into scheduled areas immediately.

The CPI(M) leader got a warm response from the tribal people, particularly tribal women, while touring the remote hamlets. Many were unable to hide their surprise at how an MP from Delhi could visit their remote village and talk to them about their problems even as their �own� MLA remains not to be seen.

The tribals greeted her warmly, and sat around her in Mampa village in Koyyuru mandal of Visakhapatnam, where the heroic freedom fighter Alluri Seetarama Raju was caught by the British and shot dead in 1924 for leading a tribal rebellion. She visited Tendu leaf fields in this village and enquired from the tribals about their sufferings.




The issues of cashew nut growers were placed before her at Makavaram village during her visit to cashew fields. The corrupt middle men cheat the tribals while purchasing forest produce during weekly bazaars. Brinda Karat attacked the government agencies like Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) and Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) for keeping mum at this corruption. She called on the tribals to be vigilant against such practices and fight against them forcefully. She infused confidence in them to build a powerful movement to protect their interests. Later, she visited Lambasingi village bazaar in Chintapalli mandal and enquired from many tribal women about the prices fetched for their forest produce. The tribals carry the collected forest produce like soapnut, Jack fruit., tamarind etc on their heads and trek more than 15 to 20 kms to the bazaars as there is no road connectivity, leave alone any road transport. The middle men offer a very meagre and unjustified price. If their produce is not sold, the tribals cannot buy essentials at the bazaar for the next coming week, and moreover they would have to carry the load back into forest. Hence, left with no option, the innocent tribals are forced to sell away their produce for that meagre price. Karat demanded the government agencies like ITDA and GCC  must take all necessary steps to see that justice is done to tribal people in this regard. They must fix the minimum fair price and directly purchase from the tribals. She also demanded that the ITDA should sincerely implement all the schemes without any lacunae or loopholes.

The CPI(M) leader also demanded that the job of pruning of cashew trees must be included in the jobs of NREGA so that the tribal people will be provided with daily wage in days where there is no other job available. She further demanded that the rate of daily wage should be increased to Rs 100  a day in the tribal areas as the tribal people have to trek long distances to come to work place from their remote hamlets.

Brinda Karat demanded that adequate payments must be made for tendu leaf collection. She enquired from local tribal women about this job and they told, with tears in their eyes, how meagerly they are paid for each bundle  of tendu leaf of 50. Out of  every 10 bundles, the contractor pays only for 9 bundles saying that tenth bundle is meant for the goddess. The CPI(M) leader asked them to pressurise the GCC to immediately intervene and give fair price to tenduleafs packs or else face their wrath. She was also surprised to note that the price of shikakai was reduced from Rs 8 to Rs 6 per kg by the GCC in Lambasingi bazaar.

Overall, Brinda Karat's tour of these areas inspired the tribal people and infused confidence in them about fighting for their rights.

Among those who accompanied her during the tour included CPI(M) MP P Madhu, former MP, Midiyam Baburao who is also secretary of AP Girijan Sangham, Sangham leader K Lakshmana Murthy and CPI(M) district secretaries of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram  Ch Narasinga Rao, C Tejeswara Rao and K Krishna Murthy.