Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today handed over land allotment letters to more than 11,000 tribals and said his Government was committed to empowering adivasis in the BJP-ruled state.
The letters, distributed to tribals from 10 districts of Central and North Gujarat at a public meet in Dahod town, 160 km from here, entitles them to cultivate on forest land.
With this, 1.10 lakh tribals from Gujarat have become owners of 10.25 lakh acres of forest land till date, Modi said addressing a gathering.
The total value of these forest lands has been estimated at Rs 3,000 crore, the Chief Minister said.
The land ownership documents have been given to tribals as part of the state government's commitment to implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
"Tribals have been fighting to get ownership rights of forest land for years. The Government collected proof using the latest technology and made the allotments to genuine applicants," the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate said.
Referring to Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana launched in April 2007, he said Rs 40,000 crore had been earmarked under the tribal development programme for the next five years.
Efforts were being made to provide 24 hour-electricity in tribal areas, the BJP leader claimed.
The BJP Government has implemented a slew of welfare programmes to empower tribals and Dalits, who form 22 per cent of Gujarat's population, Modi added.
To make tribals part of the development process, the state is focusing on promoting education among adivasis, he said.
"The Government has set up 95 science stream higher secondary schools in tribal areas. ITIs, engineering, nursing and agriculture colleges have come up in every taluka.
"The earlier Governments (of Congress) did not provide any budget under tribal head, while this government earmarked Rs 15,000 crore under Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (in 2007) and has now increased this amount to Rs 40,000 crore.
"For the first time after independence, it was the Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji which formed a separate Ministry for Tribals. Congress has deceived tribals and used them merely as a vote-bank," Modi said.