Tribals agitate demanding master plan for speedy development

Bhubaneswar: Accusing some forces of conspiring to stall progress in Odisha’s backward Kalahandi and Rayagada, tribals from the region today staged a sit-in near the Raj Bhavan here demanding a master plan for speedy agricultural as well as industrial development in the area.

A large number of tribals, including women, gathered under the banner of Kalahandi-Rayagada Development Forum carrying placards and banners with messages like “We want our right to development”, “We want education for our children”, “stop violence” and “anti-development NGOs – Go back”.

Addressing the demonstrators, leaders of the forum including its President Ajay Kumar Mishra said some NGOs and groups working at the instance of foreign forces are trying to mislead innocent tribals by presenting before them false information about development.

“There is a conspiracy to stall development in the backward and tribal-dominated Kalahandi-Rayagada region, but residents of the districts have now understood the gameplan.

They want balanced development of the area,” said Mishra.

“The forum is demanding immediate steps to chalk out a master plan to ensure speedy development of the region in all sectors. The plan is needed for balanced development through progress in farm sector as well as agro-based units,” he said.

Besides setting up small, medium and big industries in the region, authorities must take quick steps to strengthen health care services, infrastructure, educational facilities, electricity and water supply, the forum said in a statement.

Stressing the need for concrete steps to empower the poor tribals in the region and elevate their status, the forum slammed NGOs allegedly working against development and demanded steps for undertaking socio-economic audit of these organisations.

A delegation of the forum would meet Governor S C Jamir tomorrow and submit a memorandum containing their demands.