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Tribals know only their hills, forests and how to live in harmony with their surroundings, says social activist B.D. Sharma
BHADRACHALAM: The State boundaries are artificial and the hue and cry made over the migration of tribes to Andhra Pradesh from the strife torn Bastar is just the sad part of the debate over the tribal displacement, said Dr. B. D. Sharma, an IAS officer turned social activist who had been campaigning relentlessly against exploitation of tribes.
Having served as the Collector of the undivided Bastar district and Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, he developed a special bond with tribal communities in the region.
He reached the temple town on Sunday evening to participate in a public rally against ‘Green Hunt' organised by different rights organisations.
People thronged the place from far flung areas in South Bastar for the rally and they cheered him with laud applause thus proving that he is still and attraction.
Speaking to The Hindu, he said the Dandakaranya Development Authority (DDA) was established by the Union Government in 1958 to ensure balanced development of tribes in the entire region that included Koraput of Orissa in the east, Gadchiroli of Maharashtra in the west and Khammam of Andhra Pradesh in the south. But DDA could play a limited role that was more or less restricted to settling the refugees from Bangladesh.
The tribes knew no boundaries. Tribal communities were caught in similar conflicts on the international boundaries elsewhere in Nagaland and Mizoram and inter-State boundaries between Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. They have little to do with the boundaries as they were artificial.
They know only their hills and forests how to live in harmony with their surroundings and nature.
Five villages, which figured in the revenue records and geographical map of Bastar district, were found to be physically with Andhra Pradesh when he was the Collector of Bastar.
“I just had a meeting with officials of Khammam district on the issue. At the end, I preferred them to continue with Andhra Pradesh as the boundaries of the States made no difference for the resident tribes of the respective villages.”
The honourable position which the tribal communities have been enjoying in their domicile is to be accepted. The tribes have an excluded area.
The British who could conquered the plains, never did so with the tribal heartland. The tribal system of self-governance was intact in many parts.
After independence we had a Constitution and as per the fifth Schedule of the Constitution, any law of the State and Centre would not apply to the scheduled area unless it was desired so by the governor by his directive.
The seeds of discontent in the tribal communities owed to the imposition of a system that had nothing to do with their system.
Their discontentment can be addressed effectively when their problem is understood properly. The restoration of tribal raj in its true sense is all that what the situation warrants, he said.
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