Rayagada: Dongria tribes have vehemently opposed Tuesday the Rayagada forest department’s move to construct eco-tourist cottages near Niyamgiri hill, under its ambitious project for the promotion of Dongria Kondh culture and development of local tourism as well.
The Dongrias from 27 villages nearby Niyamgiri hill gathered in large numbers at Adisakani village of Kurli panchayat under Bissamcuttack block in Rayagada district, the spot where the forest department has proposed to construct eco-tourist cottages in Rayagada district.
Vehemently opposing the department’s move, Dongria tribes claimed that the lands which have been provided to the forest department by the Odisha PVTG Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP) for the purpose are their own farmlands.
Reacting to this, a member of the Dongria Kondh community Jitu Jakesika said, “A meeting was organised at Adisakani village. Huika, Pusika, Kadraka, Jakesika and Misika tribals took part in today’s meeting. OPELIP has allegedly handed over lands belonging to the Pusika clan to the forest department for eco-tourism project”.
The lands belong to people of his clan, which are their ancestral properties, Jakesika fumed. He claimed that locals have opposed it and added that there was no need for eco-tourism in this area.
“As tribals belonging to the Niyamgiri hill region do not have sufficient land to construct even kutcha houses to stay, we will not accord construction of any eco-tourist cottages and buildings here under any circumstance even at the cost of our lives,” Jakesika said.
Several other locals of the Dongria community and villagers subscribed to Jakesika’s thought, saying that under no circumstances they will allow construction of eco-tourist cottages on their farmlands.