New Delhi

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today distributed papers allotting 299 hectare (ha) of forest land to 1,147 forest-dwellers and adhikar patra-sanad (charter of rights) to 8,000 others in three remote tribal talukas of Kaprada, Dharampur and Umargam through videoconferencing from here. Tribal Welfare and Forest Minister Ganpatsinh Vasavda handed over the papers to the beneficiaries at the other end at Kaprada. Speaking on the occasion, Rupani said here today that forest wealth – the flora and fauna – is safe in the hands of forest-dwellers because of their close relation with the forest through several generations, habituated to farming and living in the forest. It is keeping this in mind that the state government has so far settled claims of 91,400 individuals and 4,569 groups in 14 districts in the state’s eastern tribal belt extending from Ambaji in north Gujarat to Umargam in the south. This included 1,49,540 acres to individuals and 11.60 lakh acres to groups.

He said the state government has taken extra care of tribal people along with the poor, oppressed and have-not. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had started the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojna to create new opportunities for the development of the forest-dwellers and PESA to protect their rights to the minor minerals and minor forest produces. Rupani said the state government has started several schemes with a package of over Rs. one lakh crore for the uplift of the forest-dwellers, including roads, electricity, drinking water and other facilities, besides education of their children. The government has started even medical colleges in remote tribal areas. He recalled the contribution of great tribal revolutionaries like Birsa Munda and Govindguru.

Referring to the state government’s rising to combat and control novel coronavirus COVID-19, he said that Gujarat will overcome the challenge and emerge stronger. He complimented the district administration of the predominantly tribal areas and the people for keeping the pandemic in check. Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpatsinh Vasava, speaking at Kaprada, said the Congress Government earlier did nothing for the tribal people except using them as vote bank. The present Vijay Rupani Government has empowered the tribal people, enacted the PESA and other Acts for the welfare of 90 lakh tribal people living in over 4,000 villages in 53 talukas in 14 districts, verification of certificates, and setting up Birsa Munda University at Rajpipla at a cost of Rs.350-crore.Those present at Kaparda included Member of Parliament K. C. Patel, MLAs Bharatbhai, Kanubhai, ex-MLA Jitubhai, Tribal Welfare Secretary Anupam Anand, Tribal Development Commissioner Dilip Rana, Collector Raval, among others.

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