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`Declare tribal habitations Fifth Schedule areas'

By Our Special Correspondent

YERCAUD, DEC. 19 . Declaring tribal habitations in the State the Fifth Schedule areas will ensure the tribals' right to livelihood and help them retain their cultural identity, A. Renganathan, Director of the Village Reconstruction Development Project (VRDP), said today.

He was speaking at the Adivasis Cultural Festival, organised here today by the Shervaroyan Hill Tribals Community Development (SHTCD), Vellakadai, Yercaud, and the Federation of Adivasi Youths and Women, in memory of the tribal activist, D. Santhosh.

Mr. Renganathan said that even after several agitations, the Government was reluctant to declare Fifth Schedule areas and implement the New Panchayati Raj Act that would completely empower the tribals.

He said tribals were being alienated from their land and forests; their villages lacked amenities. They should fight for their rights, within the constitutional provisions.

William Stanley, a social worker from Orissa, recalled the services of Santhosh to the tribals in the Shervaroyan hills.

The SHTCD Project Co-ordinator, A. Vijayan, said it was Santhosh who made the Yercaud tribals aware of sanitation and the importance of education. He mobilised the youth through sports and cultural activities, paving the way for a movement.

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