By Neel Achary: Migration of tribals is a major concern that the state has been facing for many decades. Despite implementation of the welfare schemes by the central government as well as state government, the migration has been seen surging in many folds in the recent past.
Odisha has 22 per cent tribal population as per 1991 population census and most of the tribal communities have been migrating to other places in search of work, food other facilities. Some of the tribal communities in Odisha are Bhuyans, Juang, Kondh, Savara and Raj Gond, those are still residing at hilly areas and in forest region. Tribal inhabitants have been forced to do so following growing mining sector and deforestation in Odisha.
Mining sector has been supporting the economy in the state, but taking a heavy toll on the tribal inhabitants in the state. In fact, mining in the tribal dominant regions has forced them to leave their community and ethnic groups. The rising cases of mining activities in tribal belt have offered just two option to the inhabitants – either to stay back there by joining them as labourers or leave their villages permanently and find alternative means of living sources.
The impact of the tribal migration is huge on the forest products like – honey, turmeric, mahua, wood, and other products – those have huge demand in the urban areas. Moreover, their migration would end their inherited tribal culture, and ethnic cult practices.
Laboour migration and tribal migration are two different issues in the state. Ironically, the state government has been framing rules to check the labour migration but leaving tribals to fend for themselves. The labour commission swings into action over labour exploitation in general, but when the question raises about the tribals migration due to mining, deforestation or mafia, it seldom frames any such guidelines as the matter is not clear whether it falls under labour department or tribal affairs.
There are many NGOs working towards the forest rights of the rural people, but hardly any such organization exists, which focuses on putting a full stop to the migration of tribals, as the NGOs have limited resources to work on relocation of these tribal groups.
As per the state government, rural people from the 11 districts – Bolangir, Bargarh, Subranapur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Gajapati, Ganjam, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Khorda – have been migrating to other places in search of work despite the claims of Panchayatraj department that the state government has been implementing various schemes for them at district and state level.
The state government has set up district level monitoring committee in these 11 districts under the leadership of collectors to check the migration. The state government needs to monitor the trial migration in the state in order to implement some welfare schemes to stop their migration to other places. It’s high time the Odisha government form strong policies to check the tribal migration and provide them adequate benefits so that they can live with peace and dignity as well as financial stability.
(Pic Sources: Pic 1: Tribal Woman – en.wikipedia.org; Pic 2: Tribal Women -www.news.va through AP)