TT, Siliguri, March 10: An outfit for tribal people in the plains of north Bengal today demanded that the state government form an autonomous council for adivasis of the region.
"The state had formed a tribal advisory council and a tribal task force for the progress of the adivasis. But we don't think such bodies can help meet the aspirations of tribal people in this part of the state. That is why we want an autonomous council to be formed for us," Parimal Lugun, the president of the Adivasi Jana-Shakti Morcha, said at a news conference here today.
According to him, around 30 lakh adivasis live in the Terai and the Dooars, that is the four districts of North Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar.
After Mamata Banerjee had become the chief minister, she formed the council and the task force for the tribal communities. The task force has taken up some infrastructure projects in the adivasi dominated areas of north Bengal.
Leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad were appointed to different posts at the two bodies.
"We have not seen any major initiative by the two state bodies. Right from the absence of land rights to lack of employment, the adivasis are encountering a number of problems. The tribal advisory council has not taken up any initiative to help the jobless adivasi workers in the closed tea estates of north Bengal," Lugun said.
Zerome Lakra, the general secretary of the association, said: "We will soon meet central ministers and the chief minister and place our demand before them. Even today, adivasis are the most backward lot in north Bengal. Their problems can be resolved only if an autonomous council is formed and separate funds are allotted."
If the state and the Centre do not listen to our demand, the association will launch a movement, he added.