Bhopal, Mar 14: The opposition members today said in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly that several tribal families had been evicted by the district authorities from their native villages in Lanji tahsil of Balaghat district to cover up corruption in the Forest department, while the government claimed the tribals fled their houses on their own due to naxal activities.
Raising the issue through a call attention notice, Samajwadi Party members Kishor Samrite and Arjun Palia alleged that the tribal villages of Ghiri, Mundidadar, Mahurkhodra and Payalimeta were vacated on the pretext of naxal threat in order to hide bungling of funds received from the Centre for development of forest villages.
''The villagers were not ready to return until the corruption by Forest officials were investigated'', they said.
Forest Minister Kunwar Vijay Shah agreed to the opposition demand for an inquiry by senior officers of the Forest and Police departments into alleged corruption. A Deputy Ranger had already been suspended for substandard construction of a school building.
Mr Shah admitted that 142 tribals fled Ghiri village on February 11 and reached tahsil town of Lanji, where they were allotted housing plots at Bakramundi village, 3 km from Lanji, and provided 20 logs and 250 bamboo to each family for erecting hutment.
The village was deserted following police-naxal encounter on January 20, he said. He also denied that residents of Malaidah, Dodradehi and Bhave villages of adjoining Chhattisgarh had also settled down in Lanji. He agreed for an inquiry after Deputy Speaker Hazarilal Raghuvanshi stressed for it.
Mr Samrite said about 700 villages of the district were affected by naxal activities for about two decades, but tribals had not left their houses all these years. Residents of Ghiri and other villages fled to Lanji after they were assaulted by government personnel, he said and demanded the suspension of the District Collector, Inspector Genral of Police and Conservator of Forest.
Mr Arjun Palia demanded that a committee of the Assembly should inspect the development works, which, he said, was not undertaken so far. Rs 15 lakh was provided to each forest village for infrastructure development, he said, adding there were 35 forest villages in the district.