Oct - Dec 2008
Rights Campaign of AdivasisAMS
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.
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.
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 changeOn
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 familiesAdivasi
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 SanctuaryThe 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 5thOn
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.
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.4,50,000By 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
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
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 heldIn 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.
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
Drying Yard & Community Hall in Madhuvana Estate completedAs mentioned in the last newsletter, Adivasi Tee Projekt,
our support group in Germany has mobilised funds from Westernacher
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.
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.
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
Regular updates about
activities are available in the newsletters of Ashwini