GUWAHATI: Leading Adivasi organizations of Assam met Union minister for tribals affairs, Arjun Munda, who is on a two-day visit to the state, on Sunday with the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the tea tribes and an increase in the daily wages of tea garden workers.
A delegation led by the All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) vice-president Melkhas Toppo and Adivasi National Convention (ANC) leader Birsing Munda met Arjun Munda and later said the minister has informed them that the Prime Minister has assured him that they are committed to the cause of the tribals and are working on the details for an early settlement of the ST issue.
“We apprised the Union minister about the plight of the Adivasi community and their deteriorating economic and social conditions due to meager wages, lack of education, health and employment facilities, no land and the continued political exploitation after 75 years of Independence,” said Birsing Munda, general secretary of ANC.
Further, they informed him of the devastating effect of the pandemic on their livelihood and survival. “The tea industry is facing a big challenge under Covid and due to the import of tea. The prices of tea have dipped to the lowest level at auctions. It is high time the government addressed these issues,” said Birsing.
On Monday, TRISSAM, a brand outlet under the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) scheme and website was formally inaugurated at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) by the minister. PMVDY scheme aims to empower marginalized tribal communities to make them self-reliant. With this scheme tribal forest dwellers can earn their livelihood by selling forest produce.
The PMVDY scheme has been implemented by the Assam Plain Tribes Development Corporation with the Welfare of Plain Tribes and Backward Classes being the nodal agency. The scheme is currently in its second phase of implementation, where around 30,000 tribal beneficiaries are engaged in the production of value added products, getting trained under various entrepreneurship development schemes and earning their livelihood. Their products are being channelized into the retail market by the empanelled marketing agencies.