VALPOI: Although tribal people of the Satari taluka are scattered in various villages in the taluka, most of these families live in Birondem, Pissurlem and Guleli.  Most of these tribal people are striving hard to improve their living standards and some have succeeded to a certain extent.
Speaking to this daily, the zilla panchayat member, Mr Humlo Gawde said that most of the tribals inhabit the villages located on the bank of Madei river — Kankirem, Murmunem and Guleli. About 85 per cent of the tribals in these villages are in possession of land and some of them practice faming — cultivating rice and sugarcane.
"Earlier, our community people were not educated and only dependent on agriculture, but now the new generation knows the importance of education. With the opportunities coming their way, they have proved themselves," said Mr Gawde.
"In Guleli panchayat, most of our community youth have educated and among them one has become a police sub-inspector and other a lecturer in the government polytechnic," he informed. Mr Gawde’s daughter herself has completed BEd.
In the Guleli panchayat area, 25 per cent of Scheduled Tribe families have two-wheelers while the rest depend on public transport.  The ZP member informed that in Guleli panchayat area, the living standard of the ST population is slowly improving, but more steps need to be initiated by the government to better their lot.
"We were assured during the election that special efforts will be made to improve the living standards of our people, but after the election, the situation here has remain unchanged," said 49-year-old, Mr Tulshidas Betkekar from Kankirem.
Mr Betkekar has two children and both of them go to school. "We have heard that there are facilities or welfare schemes, but we are illiterate and can’t carry out several formalities to avail the same," he added.
He informed that his forefathers were involved in agriculture, but now as the wild animals are destroying the crop, the agriculture has not remained profitable. Mr Betkekar himself is a daily wage worker. Except in a cashew season, many of these tribal people take up works as drivers or work as daily wage workers.
Sources from the BDO office informed that schemes like Indira Awas Yojna, free LPG connection, CLF bulbs, solar cookers and water storage tanks are available for the ST community.  However, sources disclosed that hardly 50 applications have been submitted to this office, adding the applications have been forwarded to the Social Welfare Department.
Panch member of Kankirem, Mr Lahu Gaonker, is making efforts to bring about development in his ward. Mr Gaonker informed that out of 220 people 97 per cent belong to Scheduled Tribes and added that he has taken initiatives so that the people get benefit of the welfare schemes.
He also said that the Health Minister, Mr Vishwajeet Rane has paid special attention to the development of this ward and few of the people have succeeded in getting government jobs.  He also disclosed that the tender for hot mixing the road in the ward has been awarded, but the work has not been undertaken due to the arrival of monsoon.
"People in Guleli panchayat face inconvenience due to the frequent power failures. Water supply in my ward is also poor. The authorities have not paid attention to solve these problems,’’ he pointed out.
Percentage of educated people in Kankirem is very low — hardly two have completed education till std 12th, the reason cited is poor financial condition.
Kankirem has a balwadi and a primary school, but both these lack basic infrastructure. The panchayat area has a high school, but ST children have to walk a long distance to reach the school.
Sarpanch of Birondem panchayat, Mr Uday Rane, informed that Vantem village is having around 700 tribal people and they have fared better in the field of education compared to the ST people in other villages of Satari.
Recalling, how these areas were underdeveloped from the last many years, Mr Rane said that the present government is making more efforts to provide benefits and special schemes to the people.
He further informed that many of the tribal youth from his ward have taken up jobs as ITI instructor, teacher, PRO, data entry operator and supervisor, recently.  Out of 3604 ST people in panchayat areas in the taluka, 1771 are males and 1861 are females. Valpoi municipal area has just 55 ST people, of which 28 are females and 27 males.


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