‘Those in tribal areas face a much harder task than their counterparts in plain areas’
The Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Samalochana on Wednesday called upon the Andhra Pradesh government to carry out an exercise of rationalisation of the village volunteer system in the Agency areas of the State, here on Wednesday.
It must be done in a manner that ensures that one volunteer is positioned for not more than 30 households in the tribal areas, unlike the stipulated 50 households in each village in the plain areas. This is because there are complexities of network coverage and geographical challenges related to travelling across villages in the Agency mandals, representatives of the organisations said.
The village volunteer system was envisaged as a novel and vital initiative to improve the delivery of welfare programmes and services. G.O. 104, issued by the Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Department on June 22, 2019, specifies that one village volunteer is positioned for around 50 households. The ratio is being maintained well in the rest of the mandals across the State. However, one volunteer serving 50 households is clearly an uphill task for volunteers in the Fifth Schedule region, given the socio-economic and geographical challenges the area presents, the representatives said.
“As a consequence, adivasis are unable to fully and properly access governmental schemes,” said V.S. Krishna, HRF A.P. and TS coordinator.
“We looked at data available from 29 tribal mandals across four districts of Andhra Pradesh so as to determine the average number of households mapped for one village volunteer. We found that on an average, each volunteer covers more than 60 households. The number of households served by each volunteer in these 29 mandals ranges from 47.5 households to 78 households,” pointed out B. Chakradhar, convener of Samalochana.
“Even though the tribal volunteers undergo a lot of hardship and are serving more households on an average compared to their counterparts in the rest of the State, the honorarium received by them is the same. Also, the Tribal Sub-Plan directs States to invest more in tribal areas in order to achieve similar results as the plain areas,” he said.
“Given the difficult terrain in the Agency and the importance of having adequate staff to ensure effective implementation of government schemes and better public service delivery, we demand that rationalisation of volunteer system in the tribal region be done to ensure that one volunteer is positioned for not more than 30 households,” Mr. Krishna and Mr. Chakradhar said.
Tribal village volunteers should also be given extra benefits as they cover a much larger geographical area than their counterparts in the plains, they added.