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Hoodwinked by administration, Odisha tribals to continue stir

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Daspalla, May 12: 

The Adivasi O Kui Unnayan Sangh’, a tribal outfit spearheading the agitation of people residing in 62 small and large villages inside Dasapalla forests in Odisha’s Nayagarh district demanding electricity connection, roads, drinking water and other basic facilities in these villages has decided to continue with its agitation till its demands are fulfilled despite the district administration managing to meet its requirement of logs for the Nabakalebara Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath at Puri.

logs“The trees which were felled for the Rath Yatra from Kanapajur Nasaghar Kabatduara and Sisirghati forests under Daspalla forest range, will not be sent to Puri.

The administration instead of sending these logs has sent wood obtained from Nuagaon forest as we again opposed movement of logs when we came to know the truth that the administration in order to get its work done had given false assurances and had betrayed us.

The administration’s requirement with regard to logs for the Rath Yatra has been fulfilled but we have decided to continue with our agitation till our demands are met,” said Srinibasi Jani, general secretary Adivasi O Kui Unnayan Sangh.

The tribals are vexed over the district administration not bothering to give a hoot to their demands for basic amenities despite giving them written assurance to fulfil their demands within two months in phases at a meeting in the presence of office bearers of the Sangh before transport of logs for the Rath Yatra.

The tribals living inside the Daspalla forest had refused to allow the logs to be moved out till their demand for basic amenities is fulfilled

It may be mentioned here that Puri district administration had ordered for 651 pieces of logs to be transported from Daspalla forest. After transportation of the first lot of logs the tribals had decided not to allow transportation of logs from their area.

The Sangh had in February refused to send logs for construction of chariots for the Rath Yatra.

As sending of logs was delayed by a month due to resistance from the tribals, the Nayagarh district administration brokered peace with them by holding a meeting with the Sangh’s representatives and promised to meet all their demands within two months in a phased manner. The administration even gave a written assurance in this regard.

A committee too was formed to monitor progress of the work and coordinate with the district collector on the matter. The committee was to meet the collector every week and inform him about the progress made in the works.

Taking advantage of the simplicity of the tribals and their consent, the district administration began transportation of logs for the Rath Yatra after performing customary puja and rituals.

However, all logs could not reach the ratha khala (place where the chariots are constructed) at Puri before Akshaya Tritiya despite that being the customary practice.

After the expiry of the two month deadline, the tribals sensing that they had been hoodwinked by the administration again opposed movement of logs to Puri for construction of chariots.

The administration this time managed to send the logs from Nuagaon forest instead of sending the logs from the Kanapajur Nasaghar Kabatduara and Sisirghati forests under Daspalla forest range.