– A PROFILE
Samata was formed as a social action group of highly motivated youth cadres committed to uphold the traditional, constitutional and human rights of the tribal people. Initiated in 1987 and formally registered in August 1990 under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 Samata began to work in the tribal villages of East Godavari and Vizag districts in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. This region forms a part of the Eastern Ghats range of mountains.
SAMATA – 1987-1997
focus of work for ten years has been community based development action
with the following objectives:
· Assist tribal people in obtaining development and infrastructure facilities which are basic to their progress like education, health care, drinking water, housing, etc.
sustainable development with regard to forests and natural wealth.
consciousness among the tribals about their legal rights:
tribal communities for resisting exploitation and asserting their rights
and for gaining control over their natural resources
locally accountable and micro level people’s institutions for self-reliant
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES:
alienation, non-tribal exploitation, industrialisation and displacement,
state violation of
constitutional and protective legislations
of control over natural resources and rights to decision-making
Economic exploitation and abuse by moneylenders and traders
and indiscriminate plunder of natural resources through ill-conceived
development policies of the state
Government negligence and lack of infrastructure facilities to
the tribals whose basic needs are scarcely addressed;
and inaccessibility of health services resulting in high mortality;
g) Inadequate and substandard educational facilities to the tribal children with a very high drop out rate at the school level particularly, of girl children.
OF SAMATA DURING THE PERIOD:
micro level action for tribal rights and the protection of the environment
was taken up with the holistic perspective in a larger development context.
Community based action was carried on in tandem with building
up linkages to lobby for macro support to the problems in the region.
level community activities of Samata in the last eleven years involved:
up micro credit network among poor tribal women
alternate development systems and local tribal institutions to counter
deprivation and economic exploitation through marketing and cooperative
societies, grain banks, land struggle groups, people’s health centres,
water-users associations, etc
community managed primary education centres called “community schools”
at the village level to meet the growing demand for education among
of forest conflicts through forest protection committees, getting legitimisation
of forest settlements, formation of Vana Samrakshana Samithis (forest
protection committees under the world bank aided forestry project),
technology intervention for development programmes using traditional
knowledge systems of tribals and combining it with modern low-cost technologies
for drinking water, irrigation, electricity, housing and land development.
Eco-Tourism by training local education tribal youth as a means of economic
progress as well as to protect the natural beauty and resources of the
of some forest villages by the forest department as per the 1980 guidelines
thereby setting up a precedent for conflict resolution between tribals
and the state.
up of a Micro-Hydel project in an interior tribal area as a model to
alternate energy generation in the hills through optimal utilisation
of local natural resources.
– THE METAMORPHOSIS – 1998:
having played the role of a community based micro level development
organisation with its focus on organising tribal communities shifted
its focus to advocacy and to providing support to address the macro
issues of the region of north coastal Andhra Pradesh and Southern Orissa.
the changed perspective, Samata’s new focus is:
work towards a people and environment friendly development of the Eastern
enable community based organisations working with the marginalised like
tribals, farmers, fishermen, etc build up their capacities with the
support and experience of Samata.
endeavour towards development of alternate development designs for optimal
utilisation of natural resources.
empower poor communities in the Eastern Ghats and help them in their
right to decision-making and right to gain control over their natural
· To build up a strong Resource Centre for research and documentation on the issues related to north coastal Andhra Pradesh, particularly the tribal areas.
NATURE OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY SAMATA:
Capacity building :
with its vast experience in community organisation, provides capacity
building support to small groups and local organisations working for
people’s rights as they find it difficult to obtain information and
inputs on their own. Samata assists ten community based organizations
in north coastal Andhra Pradesh in capacity building, education and
health, legal aid, linkages, information and documentation, organisation
management, financial support, campaign support, marketing and technical
Mines, Minerals & PEOPLE:
Samata is the National Secretariat for a national network of communities, NGO’s, resource organisations and several concerned institutions and individuals called Mines, Minerals & PEOPLE (mm&P). This network addresses the problems of communities and mine-workers affected by mining and also its impacts on the environment. It has about 150 member groups from 16 states in the country. The network support local campaigns through information, linkages, legal, media, technical and policy support on mining issues and highlights them at a national and international level.
Samata, being an advocacy
and support group, monitors the proposed and existing industries and
development projects in the state of A.P in order to act as a vigilant
civil society. It participates
in public hearings, accesses information and disseminates it to the
local communities affected. It
takes up legal, technical and media advocacy on urban and rural environment
issues affected by industries.
Support to Development Activities:
Samata implements development
programmes in the tribal villages through local community participation
to meet their basic requirements of housing, drinking water, education,
health services, etc by linking up with either government departments
like Tribal Welfare, Panchayat Raj and Rural Development, Forest Department,
etc or with institutions/organizations concerned with the development
of tribals. Samata also
encourages communities to build up local sustainable institutions for
over-coming exploitation through women’s thrift societies, forest protection
committees, health and education committees and farmers’ associations.
Direct legal services :
aid which is most crucial for marginalised communities fighting for
their rights is inaccessible to them. Inability to understand the laws
or approach the judiciary on their own makes local communities and small
organisations working with them vulnerable to exploitation by the state
and other forces. Samata
provides direct legal services to communities and groups by helping
in legal problems like false criminal cases, illegal custodies, getting
bails, harassment and human rights violations, land alienation, either
through writ petitions or public interest litigations.
It takes up legal action and advocacy on issues related to tribal,
forest, environment, industrial violations of the Constitution.
Campaign support and legal advocacy :
Samata provides assistance to local struggles of tribals, farmers, fishermen, etc who are fighting in the region for their specific rights of land, water, resources and struggles against displacement by industries. Local groups in Orissa and North Coastal Andhra Pradesh have asked Samata for guidance in organising committees, dissemination of information, planning and implementing campaign strategies, cultural training, help in legal advocacy through public interest litigations and writs, spreading legal awareness and literature among communities, etc.
Information support :
affected by private or government projects have a right to information
on these projects and their likely impacts.
Information should also be accessible to local groups and communities
on legal rights, laws and regulations, and other programmes relevant
to them. As there is an
information-vaccum due to reluctance from government and industries
in sharing it, Samata collects information, compiles into brief informative
documents and disseminates it.
Demystifying legal and technical information, particularly in
the context of development projects and spreading this literature in
the vernacular is another important activity of Samata.
Media advocacy :
being the most powerful instrument of publishing information, gathering
information, creating public awareness and acting as a pressure on the
government to follow transparency and objectivity in its policies and
programmes, Samata has been using media advocacy in all its campaign
for the protection of peoples rights.
Samata would concentrate on developing media advocacy for the
issues of the Eastern Ghats and to give strength to local struggles.
local groups need to come out of their isolated struggles as issues
affecting people are based on micro-level policies of the state.
Samata, with its experience and access to other people’s networks
helps local struggles by providing linkages to larger movements and
fora so as to build up a strong lobby support for the issues in the
Technical expertise and alternatives :
supports small organisations and communities with technical expertise
in seeking alternative sustainable development designs which can be
managed by the communities. This
includes harnessing locally available natural resources for meeting
basic needs of drinking water, electricity, irrigation, housing, etc
appropriate to the area. With
the help of the technical experts Samata also takes up impact assessment
studies and gives constructive alternatives which are ecologically and
socially enduring and press for balanced development policies of the
Research and Documentation:
Samata takes up research,
studies and prepares reports on issues related to tribals/scheduled
areas, mining, forestry, environment, human rights, land alienation,
rural development programmes, legal issues, etc.
Some of the studies undertaken Samata have been on the impact
of the Joint Forest Management program in A.P, the impact of Water Users’
Associations, feasibility studies for micro-hydel projects, socio-economic
status of mining affected tribals in Anantagiri mandal of A.P, etc.
of financial support:
Samata receives support from a few national and international aid agencies like Oxfam, Christian Aid, Swedish International Development Agency, Governments of India and A.P and through donations and contributions concerned from individuals and institutions.
Registered under Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
Contact Person: Ravi Rebbapragada, Executive Director
no.-59. Libra Enclave, Opp. Gandhinagar Bus stop, Via Kanchanbagh,
Badangipet, Hyderabad-500 058, Andhra Pradesh, India
Tel: +91-8415 - 244252
|Communities Command Over Natural Resources|