Nuapada: The simmering tension among the tribals in Sunabeda sanctuary here against the alleged highhandedness of forest officials is slowly snowballing into a movement as they have warned of boycotting the upcoming polls, a report said Tuesday.
The matter came to light after residents of over 30 villages comprising Sunabeda, Gatibeda, Soseng, Gadagada, Salepada and Sanbahali inside the sanctuary assembled at a meeting and vowed not extend any help to the forest officials and to boycott polls if their demands are not met at earliest.
Sunabeda sarpanchTilsingh Jhankar presided over the meeting attended by Soseng sarpanch Droupadi Bhunjia, Komna block chairperson Manoj Kumar Mishra, all village committee heads, youth outfits and members of Bhunjia, Paharia and Gond tribes.
Members attending the meeting expressed their concern over the highhandedness of the forest officials and about the problems they face in their daily lives.
The villagers claimed they have to traverse 30-km on forest road to reach the Komna block headquarters in the absence of a good motorable road.
The administration has started road construction under various schemes but they are deprived of the same as the forest department stopped a road construction under PMGSY from Komna to Soseng via Cherechuan, Sunabeda and Keremeli for reasons best known to it.
Wires have been drawn to many villages but they are yet to get power supply due to a ban imposed by the forest department. The administration has even proposed to build houses, schools and roads but the forest department is acting as a hurdle on the way of the proposals, sarpanch Tilsingh Jhankar alleged.
The road on which they walk to the Komna block has been severely damaged and is in urgent need of repair but the forest department is not making any efforts in this direction. They have formed a 50-member committee to spearhead their agitation and whoever among the villagers helps the forest officials will be ostracized from the villages.
Komna block chairperson Mishra said they will report the matter to the state government and demanded the district administration to intervene.
The sanctuary is known for its picturesque locations. Forest officials rule the roost in the sanctuary while tribals continue to live in deprivation. The tribals are even debarred from plucking a leaf from a tree while the forest officials go scot free despite their wrongdoings, the tribals alleged.
The residents live in such a state that basic facilities like roads and power supply still elude them.