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Film throws light on tribals' problems

india Updated: Aug 05, 2007 21:23 IST
Chetan Chauhan

At the time when a Group of Ministers is discussing the new mining policy allowing huge private participation, the government will hear the voice of tribals through a documentary.

Mohua, a documentary mapping tribal population in four states, depicts how the tribals were thrown out of their own land by mining companies for the promises that were never met. Story of hundreds of tribals in Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand has just one message -- mining companies have degraded their natural resources necessary for their sustainability.

Be it Vedanta plant in Orissa or Sterlite Balco mining operations in Andhra Pradesh, the tribals have only thing to say: government officials connived with mining companies to throw them out of their land they have been tilting for centuries. The government can throw them out, as legally the tribals don't have ownership right over land in forest areas, the documentary says.

Incidentally, the documentary comes at a time when the government is finalising the rules to operationalise the Tribal Rights law, notified earlier this bill. The rules, once notified, will provide limited land and forest produce usage rights to the tribals for the first time.

The documentary also hinges on this legitimate demand of the tribals in wake of opposition for forest conservationists, who termed the tribal rights law as "death warrant" for forests and wildlife.

Though conservationists like Valmik Thapar and PK Sen have already represented their views to the government, the documentary will put forth the demand of tribals before Tribal Affairs Minister R Kyndiah and Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes on Tuesday. "We want to tell people in cities and towns the travails of being a tribal and how MNCs would steal their livelihood, if new mining policy is approved," said Vinod Kumar, who used footage collected over a period of three years for this documentary.

The 82-minute real life shots of tribals in remote parts of the country is also an interesting mix of how tribals are trying to survive with their ancient culture in modern India, and how reaping benefit of India's economic development is still a distant dream for most ribals.

Although the documentary avoids the controversial issue of Naxal movement, yet it mentions about Tribals' fight for their rights and the old colonial mentality of the government officials posted there.