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“My father started the Adivasi Vikas Sangham in 1996 with a view to fight for financial freedom, land rights, nutritional food and medical facilities for the tribal people”.
I “have been taking forward the ideology of my father who strove for the development of the tribal people by forming an organisation called Adivasi Vikas Sangham,” said Padala Bhudevi, who received Nari Shakti Award from President Ram Nath Kovind in New Delhi on Sunday on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
In an interview with TNIE over phone, Bhudevi, who hails from Sastrulapeta in Gulumuru panchayat in Hiramandalam mandal of Srikakulam district, spoke on various issues dogging the tribal women and achievements of her society. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
When did you start the society?
My father started the Adivasi Vikas Sangham in 1996 with a view to fight for financial freedom, land rights, nutritional food and medical facilities for the tribal people. After his demise, I started Chinmayi Adivasi Sangham in 2007 to continue my father’s legacy.
How did you feel on receiving the Nari Shakti Award from the President?
I felt proud to fight for the rights of tribal people, particularly women. I dedicate the award to the women activists who have been fighting for tribal women’s rights
What are the achievements of your society?
About 1,600 women farmers got pattas for the land being cultivated by them in the forest area. About 4,000 acres were distributed among the farmers after the society started fighting for the rights of the tribal people. We have been promoting millet cultivation in a big way with the support of NGOs and government agencies. Land rights, nutritional food and health facilities and empowerment of women are the prime objectives of the society.
How many villages get the services of your society?
We have been providing services to 62 tribal villages in Hiramandalam, LN Peta, Patapatnam and Kotturu mandals
How do you promote economic empowerment of women?
We set up ‘Neelamma Talli’ millet bakery. We also set up millet processing unit at Sastrulapeta village. In all, 38 women are working in the bakery and 10 people in the millet processing unit. Hundreds of women farmers have been involved in the cultivation of millets. With the support of the Girijan Cooperative Corporation, government agencies and NGOs, we are marketing millets in major towns and other States.