Special Authority soon for Girijans in AP: CM

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Hyderabad, Jan 20 (UNI) The Andhra Pradesh Government will set up a 'Special Authority' soon for the welfare of the girijans living in the plains, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said today.

Speaking at the valedictory of the 'Girijan Utsav' here, he said the authority would look into improving their economic standard and protecting culture and traditional values.

The government had enhanced the sub-plan allocations for girijans from Rs 700 in 2003-04 to Rs 2,455 this fiscal. As per the guidelines of the Centre, the government would grant the tribals the ownership rights over forest lands they cultivated.

The move would bring about ten lakh acre of forest land under cultivation, he said adding the government would prepare an action plan to provide financial aid for coffee, cashewnut and rubber cultivation. Title deeds would be given to a maximum extent of four hectare.

Tribal Welfare Minister D S Redya Naik said the government had increased budgetary allocations for the Girijan Welfare Departmnet from Rs 433 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 719 crore this fiscal.

He said 66 per cent of the allocation for the Department was earmarked for education for three lakh Girijan students, with free meals and accommodation in 599 residential schools, 442 hostels and 260 gurukula schools.

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