Tribal groups in Rajasthan have demanded that the next elected government in the State reveal the status of each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with reference to tribal communities and declare their status targets. The activists said that no political party had depicted its commitment to work for sustainable development of tribal people.A manifesto for rights of the tribal population, residing mainly in southern Rajasthan, has demanded that they be recognised as “custodians of ecosystem, nature and traditions” and paid an honorarium for their contribution to preservation of natural resources. Their environment-friendly practices were also highlighted in the charter of demands.The document was released by the Tribal Development Forum, Vaagdhara, and other institutions working for tribal rights and food security here last week. Vaagdhara secretary Jayesh Joshi said on Thursday that the manifesto was handed over to the ruling BJP and all Opposition parties for its inclusion in their agenda for the Assembly election.Sustainable farmingMr. Joshi said though 70% population in the tribal area depended on agriculture, which was primarily rain-fed, most of the government’s investment towards agriculture was dedicated to the irrigated crop area. “A sustainable integrated farming system needs to be developed for benefiting small and marginal tribal farmers. Besides, agricultural subsidies should be broadened to promote traditional farming,” he said.A monitoring mechanism should be dedicated to the SDG index in the tribal village panchayats, blocks and districts, said Mr. Joshi. Besides, the next government should take serious steps for stopping the migration cycle triggered by lack of education and skills and large family size, which contributed to tribal people’s poverty, forcing them to leave forests and villages.Rajasthan’s tribal population mainly resides in Udaipur, Sirohi, Dungarpur, Banswara and Pratapgarh districts.
Asking the Madhya Pradesh government to refrain from dabbling in matters of religion, BJP leaders have objected to an advisory issued by the district administration making it mandatory to declare with it idols more than three feet tall, ahead of the Durga Puja on October 6. The first such advisory in the State comes days after 11 youths drowned in a lake here as their boats capsized during the immersion of an 18-foot-tall Ganesh idol. “The accident was not caused because of the idol’s height. It was a result of the administration’s negligence,” said Vishvas Sarang, Narela (Bhopal) MLA. The government had no right to restrict an idol’s height or impose conditions on it, he said, “it should be left to the Hindu community.”Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur said it was a crime to play with sentiments of Hindus. “If the administration is trying to discourage immersion of tall idols, it should do the same for tazias.”Collector clarifies“We have not restricted the height but asked people to keep us informed in case they are keeping an idol more than three feet tall,” said Bhopal Collector Tarun Kumar Pithode. “Especially if the height goes beyond six feet, we need to be informed so that arrangements could be made accordingly at immersion sites.”BJP State media chief Lokendra Parashar said the administration should instead focus on ensuring safety during immersions. “They should not talk such things.”At least a week before the festival, organisers and puja committees must register idols more than three feet tall with either the Municipal Corporation or the police, says the advisory. Without it, they will not be allowed to take out processions or immerse idols. Mechanised immersionsMoreover, the use of boats for immersions will be prohibited, and only mechanised immersions of idols more than three feet tall, using a crane or other means, will be permitted, that too only during the hours fixed by the administration. And use of loudspeakers and idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) will be prohibited. Although the State government has no law regulating idol immersion, an informed source in the district administration said a proposal for it would be sent to the Chief Minister soon. Bengal ruleAt present, only West Bengal has rules regulating idol immersions. It prohibits idols more than 20 feet tall and makes it mandatory for puja committees to submit a declaration before the Municipal Corporation on the compliance with rules such as no use of PoP idols, synthetic colour or toxic materials, and height of the super structure below 40 feet. The State Pollution Control Board could penalise committees in case of violation.