Oct - Dec  2008

2nd Land Rights Campaign of Adivasis

AMS has launched its 2nd Land Rights Campaign this year. A massive exercise to record and analyse the landholding status of the adivasis is right now in progress. As a first step, detailed door to door survey of over 4000 adivasi families that are part of AMS has been completed. About 3000 families have given individual applications demanding the Government to allot land for them. Similarly, over 1000 families are requesting the Government to provide proper legal documents for the 1300 acres under their possession right now.

The activists of AMS have been organising village level meetings and workshops with the Adivasi leaders to take this process forward. A detailed report analysing the result of this survey and the meetings will be prepared shortly and we will share it with everyone soon.

A delegation will meet the Government officials during the month of January and a big seminar is also planned to be organised in February. Planning Commission members from Government of India too have promised to visit Gudalur to assess the land issues faced by the adivasis. We hope that land rights of the future generation of adivasis will be secured with these efforts.

Health Seeking Behaviour - a dramatic change

On December 21st, all of us experienced the dramatic change that has happened in the 'health seeking behaviour' in the adivasi community. It was the day of Pulse Polio Programme - kids all over the country were administered polio drops orally that day. Gone are the days when hardly any adivasi child was immunised. Almost all the adivasi children are immunised these days.

But, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, some wild rumours spread all over Tamilnadu that some children have died due to polio vaccination. Though these rumours originated somewhere far away, it reached adivasi villages also in no time like wild fire. By evening 5 o'clock, there was a flurry of activity all over. Jeeps and autorickshaws were zooming here and there, carrying adivasi children and their worried parents. By 6 o'clock, most of the children who were given polio drops in the morning were brought either to our health sub-centres or to nearby hospitals. The entire Kotharavayal village was in Gudalur Adivasi Hospital and jeeps kept bringing people nearby villages.

On the one hand, it was a difficult situation to handle and to manage the anxiety of the parents. But, on the other hand, it was proof that the adivasi community has come a long way in seeking health care. There may be exceptions, but the majority of the people from the community will come forward to seek care and to demand better health services.

You can get latest updates on our health sector activities from this newsletter.

Forest Officials interact with Adivasi families

Adivasi Munnetra Sangam has launched an intensive campaign to press the Government for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, which recognises the rights of the adivasis and traditional forest dwellers over forest resources. A series of meetings have been held and Eco Development Committees with active participation of adivasi leaders are being formed. In Chembakolli village, the Eco Development Committee has been even allotted the first installment of funds to the tune of Rs.63000 by the Forest department that could be used for the development of their village - as they deem fit.

At last, the Forest department has realised that protection of forests and sustainability of these resources is possible only with the engagement of adivasis and by giving them a clear role. So, it was heartening to see the forest officials seeking the help of adivasi leaders and coming forward to attend meetings in the villages. One such meeting was organised in Gudalur, in which the Field Director Mr.Rajiv Srivastava was invited along with some Range Officers and officials from World Wide Fund for nature.

Benna Village in Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
The FD explained the rules behind the proposed Tiger Reserve that is being formed in Mudhumalai sanctuary, the implications for adivasi families and the positive arrangement that can be worked out between adivasi families and the government. Even though the past experience leaves many people with apprehensions, the Sangam has assured the forest officials that their livelihoods are closely linked to the forests and they are always willing to provide any support required in this regard.

It is a significant achievement for the Sangam to have won the recognition of the government that adivasis are crucial to protect the forests. We hope that this relationship will result in avoiding harrassment to adivasis and in protecting their livelihoods.

Adivasi Day celebrated on December 5th

On December 5th, Adivasi Day was celebrated by many adivasi villages - a day commemorating the big land rights demonstration organised by AMS on December 5, 1988. Given the focus on Land Rights, it was decided to celebrate this year's Adivasi Day in different villages, rather than in the Area Centres. This was done to ensure participation of more people.

Apart from hoisting the AMS flag and speeches by the leaders, this year's Adivasi Day function highlighted the efforts of the Sangam in securing rights over land and forests. Many children participated in these events and the leaders explained the concept of the Sangam and stressed the need for unity in all our struggles.

Savings by Adivasis crosses Rs.4,50,000

By the end of November, we had more or less completed an intensive year of Savings Programme with our Savings Coordinators. Even though some of the Areas like Erumadu had started this programme even before that, the activity got a fillip  with the Savings Coordinators.

It is really remarkable to note that the total savings that have been mobilised from our sangam members has crossed Rs.360,000 by end of November. More gratifying, when this is done without any inducement of loans or any such carrots. Apart from this, adivasi children are also encouraged to save by giving them small wooden boxes. Till November, the total amount saved by the adivasi children alone has reached Rs.95000.

A few years ago, we would not have believed that this is possible. Detailed plans are currently being made to bring all the adivasi villages and families into the fold of this programme.

General Body Meeting of Tea Leaf Marketing Society held

In another one month, the Adivasi Tea Leaf Marketing Society will complete ten years of successful operations. In spite of the terrible slump in the tea industry for many years and lot of operational difficulties, the adivasi team can look back with pride that they have managed to sustain this informal marketing society for so long.

During November and December, Area General Body meetings were held inviting adivasi tea grower members. Issues like increasing the procurement volumes, how to utilise the amount saved by the members with the Society, technical support required for better cultivation etc. were discussed in these meetings.

On December 21st, the General Body Meeting of the Society was held with inputs from the Area GBMs held earlier. More than 200 people attended this grand event and resolved to take the Society forward. As this activity is completely managed by the adivasi team without any support from others, it is also proposed to hand over the entire assets of this operation to the Society. We are consulting the auditors and completing the legal requirements for the same.

Drying Yard & Community Hall in Madhuvana Estate completed

As mentioned in the last newsletter, Adivasi Tee Projekt, our support group in Germany has mobilised funds from Westernacher Business Management Consulting AG in Wiesloch, Germany for a vehicle and for the construction of a Drying Yard in our Madhuvana Estate. Construction of this drying yard was started after monsoon and it has been completed in November.

It is just in time, as coffee beans will be ready to be harvested and the yard can be used to dry them this year itself. We thank ATP and Westernacher for their support in this important need.

After constructing the houses for the estate workers, we have completed the Community Hall as well. Finishing touches are being made and it will be inaugurated by adivasi leaders on 5th January in the estate.

Regular updates about our other activities are available in the newsletters of Ashwini and Just Change .

© Copyrights : Adivasi Munnetra Sangam, Gudalur.

Click here if you want to use any part of this website