Tulasi seeks rehabilitation of tribal mines workers

Bhubaneswar: Padmashree Awardee and social activist Tulasi Munda today urged the Odisha government and the Shah Commission to find ways to provide livelihood to tribals hit by closure of mines following illegal mining in Keonjhar district.

"Shah Commission must find ways to rehabilitate the tribals who lost their livelihood due to closure of mines," Munda told reporters here. Stating that she would like to have a talk with Justice M B Shah who was scheduled to visit Keonjhar district on Thursday, Munda said "Justice Shah should also realise that closure of mines has adverse effects on the tribal economy.

"It is duty of the government to stop illegal mining. When the authorities fail to stop illegal mining, they simply suspend mine operations," she said, which left thousands of tribal families in penury. Poor tribals were unable to cultivate because of massive pollution and mostly depended on mining, industry and allied activities, she said.

Munda claimed that about four lakh tribals lost their livelihood because of closure of mines. Munda said she had appealed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. "The CM has assured me that the interest of tribals will be protected. But, I don`t understand when the tribal problems will be addressed."

In absence of proper jobs, the youths are taking to crime which was on the rise in Keonjhar district, Munda claimed. Fifty-seven mines were recently closed after state government issued notices ahead of the Shah Commission`s visit.