| Chief minister Nitish Kumar at Valmiki Tiger Reserve on Sunday. Picture by Awadh Kishore Tewari |
Members of the Tharu community on Sunday met chief minister Nitish Kumar at Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve and demanded implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
Traditional forest communities like Tharus, Oraon and others who live inside the VTR have complained against alleged harassment by government officials.
On Sunday, members of the Tharu Welfare Federation met Nitish and apprised him about the problems they face. Federation president Parmeshwar Kazi, secretary Sheetal Mahto, mukhiya of Bankatwa Badmaliya Done village Ram Kisun Kazi and his counterpart from Naurangia Done village Riya Devi were part of the delegation.
Sources said the delegate presented a seven-point charter of demands to Nitish. Appointment of teachers from the community in government schools, establishment of a referral hospital in Cherwa Done, irrigation facilities for the villages and immediate implementation of the Scheduled Tribes & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 are some of the demands.
“The chief minister assured the delegation that he would visit the area in April to learn in detail the relevant issues in the forest area as well as the problems faced by the traditional forest dwellers,” a source said.
VTR chief director Santosh Tewari said: “The chief minister’s visit was for personal reasons. He has come here for a change.”
Nitish, however, held a meeting with senior officers of the VTR and the district at the Naurangia Done forest range guest house, around 280km northeast of Patna, soon after he arrived for a two-day visit.
Tewari, West Champaran district magistrate Shridhar Chiruvelu, Bagaha superintendent of police Pushkar Anand and his Bettiah counterpart S.K. Nayar attended the nearly two-hour meeting.