Jhabua(MP), Feb 8: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed grave concern over the migration of tribals due to afforestation and lack of employment opportunities.
Afforestation had deprived the tribals of employment opportunities in the backward western Madhya Pradesh and they were forced to seek employment elsewhere, he said after laying the foundation stone of two new railway lines linking the backward Dhar and Jhabua districts with Gujarat.
The Prime Minister urged the Railway Minister to expedite construction of both railway lines in three years and expressed the hope that a large number of people could be given employment in the construction work and migration could be checked to a certain extent.
The Centre was giving priority for development of roads, airports, ports and other infrastructure and its positive results were visible, the Prime Minister said, adding increase in transport facilities helped improvement in standard of living.
''Both railway projects costing Rs 1286 crore would change the fate and face of the backward region'', he added. The 200 km Dahod-Indore via Jhabua line would cost Rs 678 crore, while 152 km ChhotaUdepur-Dhar line was expected to cost Rs 608 crore.
Mr Singh said henceforth forest dwellers would be spared of the Damocles sword of eviction with the Centre enacting a law to grant them ownership rights of the land. He urged Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to ensure strict implementation of the forest dwellers right for the benefit of tribals in large number.
He said the government had initiated several programmes for the upliftment of the downtrodden, farmers and labourers.
Referring to the national rural employment guarantee scheme, assuring at least 100 days employment to the needy, the Prime Minister said the scheme, at present covering 31 districts of Madhya Pradesh, would be introduced in all districts from April this year.
''EGS would solve unemployment and food scarcity in tribal dominated districts and would check migration as people would be provided employment near their place of residence'', he added.