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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Curbs on tourist movement hit tribals, artists' livelihood

By Prakash Hatvalne, TNN | Jan 29, 2013, 05.40 AM IST KANHA TIGER RESERVE: Restrictions, imposed by Supreme Court on the movement of tourists in national parks have not only affected tourism industry, but has also affected livelihood of tribal and other artists around the parks like Kanha National Park. Some tribals assembled during the three-day celebrations of 'Trees in their lives' which concluded at a hotel in Kanha, claimed that they would have no other option, but to go back to jungles and work as labourers in the government's MANREGA scheme. Artists and craftsmen into making bamboo items, wood carving, clay toys and Gond tribal painters along with Baiga dance performers assembled at the camp. "We used to earn good money in three months from October to December and this was enough for us to survive up to March, but this year we are unable to earn," says a group of three artists Manoj Diwedi, Aashish Kushwaha and Amit Lakhera based at Khatiya entry of Kanha. Earlier, every artist earned Rs 10,000 to 15,000 during peak season in three months. But this time they could earn barely Rs 5,000 because of tourism restrictions, Manoj claimed. Rajendra Shyam, a Gond painter, who came to attend the festival said, "The government should also think about our future. Our Gond paintings are now popular in international art market." Singinava foundation, organizer of festival, is also planning to set up a museum for artists with the help of local tribals. Bundiya Tekam, a sarpanch of Kohaka village in Mandla district, says, "We have arranged a piece of land and soon we will make a building where all artists' work will be displayed so tourists can come at one place and buy art material of all artists." Before restrictions, about 300 vehicles carrying tourists were allowed to enter the park in morning and evening, but now only 168 number vehicles are permitted.

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