People from tribal communities from 12 villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region marched to state capital Raipur on Wednesday to register their protest against converting their gram panchayats into nagar panchayats.
Over 200 people have decided to stay put in Raipur until the government takes heed of their demands, they said. Shivram Markam said he started marching towards Raipur on October 3, with no knowledge of when he would return. “We have come with ration and utensils. We are going to sit here until the government changes the status of our village back to gram panchayat,” he said.
The protesters said converting gram panchayats into nagar panchayats hinders the basic rights of those living in these regions. “The benefits of MNREGA and other government schemes won’t be available for us under nagar panchayat. Even taxation and other levies would change,” said Domay Maurya, chairman of Bastar Nagar panchayat. “We are residents of Fifth Schedule areas — without our consent our rural area is being converted into an urban area.”
The protesters Wednesday met Governor Anusuia Uikey. “The Governor told us she had already written to the government,” Markam said.