Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to Union minister Arjun Munda and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging them for early payment of compensation to tribals and reconstruction measures in flood-hit areas in the state.
Gandhi, in a letter to Union tribal affairs minister Munda, said that his Parliamentary constituency Wayanad has a large population of Scheduled Tribes, which is home to many vulnerable tribal groups like Kadars and Kattunayakans. He said, as many tribal colonies are located in hilly areas, floods and landslides have destroyed their habitation and rendered their lands uncultivable due to deposition of silt.
The former Congress president, who now represents the Wayanad constituency, said that during his recent visit, many tribal families appealed for early payment of monetary compensation and a comprehensive rehabilitation package.
“Given the vulnerabilities of Scheduled Tribes, rehabilitation schemes focussed on sustainability and developing climate resilience must be formulated. As the nodal ministry for coordinating programmes for Scheduled Tribes, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs may spearhead efforts to ensure seamless coordination between the central ministries and the state government in this endeavour,” he said.
“I understand that an inter-ministerial central team, under the aegis of the Home Ministry, would be visiting flood-affected states, including Kerala,” he said. Making some recommendations for the committee’s consideration, he said, provisioning of clean drinking water in the tribal hamlets must be prioritised, especially where communities are being relocated to safer locations.
On sustainable livelihood generation, he said, “The post-disaster needs assessment report, 2018 Kerala floods stated that workers, particularly women from the Scheduled Tribes, must be re-skilled to engage in climate-resilient agricultural work and natural resource protection under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.”
Gandhi also demanded that schemes for skilling, as well as creating a robust market for their products, must be prioritised. The Congress leader said that measures to create disaster-resilient housing for tribals, sensitive to the ecological fragility of the area with adequate sanitation facilities, may be provided.
“I hope that the MoTA works pro-actively with both, central ministries and the state government to help some of the most marginalised communities in Wayanad Parliamentary constituency chart a path to a more secure future,” he said.
In a separate letter to the Kerala chief minister, he demanded reconstruction of Kaippinikadavu Bridge between Kurumbilangode and Chungathara village in Chungathara Grama Panchayath (flood-affected area) in Malappuram district of Kerala.
He said that the Kaippinikadavu Bridge, which is the lifeline that connects these two villages across the Chaliyar river, has collapsed and the lack of connectivity between the villages has further slowed down their recovery process. The villagers have appealed for expediting the reconstruction of this bridge.
“I request you to kindly take steps towards the reconstruction of the bridge at the earliest. In the interim, a temporary structure to ensure safe access between the villages may be provided,” he said in the letter.