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`Give 7,693 hectares of forest land to tribals'

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, FEB. 15. Dileep Singh Bhuria, chairman of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission, has said that the State Government should hand over 7,693 hectares of forest land to landless tribals as allowed by the Centre.

He was speaking to mediapersons after a convention of tribal people and organisations held here today at the Saraswathy Vidyaniketan, Elamakkara.

The Government had been given a year's deadline to implement the distribution, he said, adding that non-tribals had to be evicted from areas that belonged to the tribes.

The Commission member, S. K. Kaul, said that a conservator of forests had to be appointed to supervise the distribution. "There is increasing awareness now among tribals about outsiders trying to take away their land," he said.

Mr. Bhuria said that unlike in States like Chattisgarh, tribals were in a minority in the State.

There was increasing demand to reserve Wayanad as a tribal seat, since there were no tribal constituencies in Kerala, he said.

Earlier in the day, a Vanavasi Aikya Vedi was formed with Nelliyeri Raman as president. The decision to form the vedi was taken by representatives of 15 tribal groups from the State who participated in the convention.

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