West Bengal begins damage control in tribal villages

December 10th, 2008 - 11:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) In a bid to rehabilitate the backward tribal communities, the West Bengal government Wednesday began a damage control process in violence-hit areas of West Midnapore district as its officers went from door to door to get first-hand information about the grievances of villagers.”The state government officials today (Wednesday) went to Dalilpur and Chotopelia - two trouble-prone areas of West Midnapore district that witnessed a series of tribal protests in the recent past - and interacted with them. We asked them about their problems and the villagers also cooperated with the district administration,” West Midnapore District Magistrate N.S. Nigam told IANS.

Nigam said: “A medical team, relief materials like dry food and blankets, were also sent to the villages since they were little cut off from the rest of the district for the past one month.”

“I’ve asked the local block development officer (BDO) to take care of the tribal population there who has vented its ire on the state administration on the issue of ‘lack of development’ in the region,” Nigam said.

He said the district administration has also promised upliftment of the area through various land development schemes and other socio-economic reforms.

Trouble erupted in the tribal-dominated areas of West Midnapore district after the police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women after a landmine blast at Bhadutala near Salboni, in an ambush of the convoy of the state chief minister and two union ministers.

Participating in a violent protest, the tribals dug up metalled roads and placed large tree trunks across them, virtually cutting off the region from the rest of the district. They also alleged police excesses on them and participated in a non-cooperation movement with the state government.

“We’ve several plans in the pipeline to develop the existing 100-odd tribal hostels for which we’ve got a fund of Rs.10 million. Considering the situation, we can also augment a few of these hostels if we find it necessary,” the district magistrate said, adding that a number of primary schools would also be set up in the tribal-dominated areas in the district.

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