Various tribal groups residing in forests are coming together to urge Government to provide them with separate reservation in Government jobs and other areas.
By forming an association named, 'Moola Aranyavasigala Rakshana Vedike' (meaning, a protection forum for aborigine tribals residing in forests ), the tribals to draw the attention of government and make the public aware of their burning problems.
Out of total 50 tribal communities in the State, only 12 communities are forest dwellers, namely Soliga, Jeenu Kuruba, Koraga, Paniya, Kadu Kuruba, Bette Kuruba, Medha, Maleya, Yerava, Siddi and others. Majority of the forest based tribes are located in Mysuru, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar Belt, and the association is uniting the tribes in these districts.
'With three per cent reservation for Scheduled Tribes, we tribals dwelling in forests are not able to compete with the other tribal communities. Rise in population and adding non tribal communities to ST has reduced the number of seats available for us,' rued the forest dwellers.
Another tribal says: 'With inclusion of the Nayaka community and other grouped to the ST category, the tribal population increased drastically. Whereas, we are provided with a mere three percent reservation, which is quite insufficient compared with the growth of the tribal population.'
S Rathnamma of Soliga Community, who has completed her MA in Sociology, says: 'Tribal communities lack basic facilities, inspite of crores of rupees being sanctioned the grants are not reaching us. Only countable number of forest dwellers are educated. Those educated don't get job and have to go back to the forests to eke a livelihood.'
'NGO's are exploiting innocent tribals by misleading them. Using the cause of tribals they are making money and using the government facilities. If tribes are educated they come to know how they are being cheated. Thus, we are seeking separate reservation for our overall development,' she adds.
'Nobody is bothered to uplift us socially, educationally, economically. Most of the funds are returned back. The money should be used completely. Most of the forest dwellers are suffering from tuberculosis, anemia,' she observed.
'There is need of a separate reservation for forest based tribals. we should be provided with appropriate training and should be absorbed (as a meti or orderly) in the forest department, tourism, social welfare department and others which indeed help officers. By providing training tribals should be engaged in assisting officials and tourists who visit forests,' she added.
Chamarajanagar District Association President Rajendra says: 'We are currently the most backward community. Most of the government programmes are not reaching us as a result we are deprived socially, educationally and economically'.
'Though there are eleven MLAs, not a single forest dweller has been elected. We (forest dwellers) are not progressing much after other communities were added to ST,' adds another Tribal Veerendra.
There are nearly 700 tribal communities in country, of which around 50 tribal communities in State. Out of 73 primitive tribal in country, two primitive tribes in State are Jeenu Kuruba and Koraga.