CHIEF MINSTER Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday assured tribals of the State that forest villages would soon be converted into revenue villages. He said he was awaiting Presidential assent to amendments in the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, passed by Parliament.
Addressing a huge congregation of tribals from across the State at his official residence, Chouhan said a campaign would follow soon to grant lease rights to the tribals who were in possession of the land till as late as December 2005.
Conversion of forest villages to revenue ones would mean that tribals would be able to have landholding, a privilege they did not enjoy thus far. Also, they could be rid of the fear of being dislodged from the land they occupied. It would pave the way for availability of basic facilities at their locations.
Chouhan said conversion of forest villages to revenue ones was a long-pending demand of the tribals. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, he took steps to grant lease of land occupied to the tribals. Earlier, Sunderlal Patwa Government in the State had done this.
Showering sops on the tribals, the CM said the government would introduce Mukhya Mantri Awas Yojana under which 15,360 dwellings would be provided annually to tribals living below poverty line.
For education of tribal boys and girls, Chouhan said the amount of scholarship would be increased from Rs 350 to Rs 500, and from Rs 360 to Rs 525, respectively, for those living in hostels/ashrams. Television sets with DTH facility would be provided to every hostel/ashram.
The two announcements would entail additional burden of over Rs 30 crore annually for the State exchequer. Provisions for this would be made in the next budget, the Chief Minister said.
He said the amount of reward to tribal students obtaining the top two positions (among tribals) in Class 10 and 12 examinations would be increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 and Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. The award for those standing third would remain at Rs 10,000. Chouhan said the first 100 boy and 100 girl students would also be rewarded suitably. He said bicycles would be given to girls after passing Class 5 to check dropout rates.
He said tribal students preparing for civil services examinations would be free to choose any coaching institute for preparation. Research scholars would be given Rs 8,000 per month instead of Rs 5,000. He said on November 1 hostels’ day would be observed annually at tribal hostels in the State and parents would also be present at the functions.
The other announcements by the CM were toiletries, free uniforms, bags and books to school-going children, planting of four crore bamboo plants, opening of 25 new primary health centres, eight new community health centres and 50 sub-health centres, alternative drinking water facilities at 3,282 habitats forced to drink fluoride-mixed water.
He said there would be a special campaign to protect lives of primitive tribals like Sahria, Baiga and Jharia. Polytechnics would be opened at Dindori and Umria. A ‘rain basera’ would be constructed for tribals in the State capital.
Taking note of complaints from the gathering about delays in issuance of caste certificates, Chouhan said arrangements would be made to provide castes certificates at their door to the applicants.
Earlier, representatives from various places gave suggestions, which were noted down by officials. Those present at the convention included former chief ministers Sunderlal Patwa and Kailash Joshi; Ministers Vijay Shah, Antar Singh Arya, Himmat Kothari, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Rustam Singh; Kaptan Singh Solanki, Faggan Kulaste, Anusuiya Uike and Chhatar Singh Darbar.