The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh announced on the occasion of World Tribal Day on Friday that loans taken by tribals from money-lenders would be waived in the state.
The decision is expected to benefit 1.5 crore tribals, Chief Minister Kamal Nath said at a function here.
Tribals would also be given debit cards with facility of withdrawal of upto Rs 10,000, he said.
The government will also ensure that tribals get back valuables like jewelery and land pledged as collateral for the loan, Nath said.
Money-lenders will have to obtain a license from the government for working in tribal areas, he said, adding the tribals will not have to repay the money borrowed from those who do not have a license.
"The loan taken by tribals from money-lenders in all tribal blocks of the state will be waived by the state government. It will benefit 1.5 crore tribals," Nath said.
Chhindwara, his traditional constituency, has a sizable tribal population.
"We have made all necessary arrangements for rolling out this scheme," he said, adding that it will come into effect from August 15 across all 89 tribal blocks.
The government will also provide tribals with debit cards through which they can withdraw up to Rs 10,000.
"It will give them a major relief from money-lenders. The facility to withdraw money from ATMs will be provided at weekly markets," Nath said.
The chief minister also announced that forest villages would be converted into 'revenue villages' for administrative convenience.
The Scheduled Tribes department would be renamed as Tribal Development Department as per tribals' demand, he said.
The applications of tribals whose land rights ('patta') were canceled by the previous government will be reexamined, and if the claims are valid, the rights will be restored, Nath said.
The chief minister also announced 'Mukhyamantri Madad Yojna' for providing assistance to tribal families on child birth and death of a family member.
Upon the birth of a boy or a girl, the family will get 50 kg of rice or wheat. In the event of death in the family, 100 kg of rice or wheat and utensils for cooking food would be given.
Forty Eklavya Schools would be set up in tribal areas to provide quality education.
Also, seven new sports complexes will be set up and 40 schools will be upgraded to higher secondary schools in these areas, the chief minister said.
Facilities on par with government schools would be provided to 53,000 teachers who work in tribal areas, he said.
For preserving tribal history, a museum with estimated cost of Rs 500 crore will be set up at Jabalpur in the memory of Raja Shankarshah and Raja Raghunath Shah, he added.
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