Manoharpur: Pledging all amenities to the tribals residing in the villages near the Saranda forest, once the Maoist hotbed, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has appealed to the tribals to abstain from liquor.
"Now that the Maoists have gone and development works have begun in your village, you have another big task to overcome. Giving up consumption of liquor and making your village a dry zone," the Union Rural Development Minister told the villagers of Dodari in Manoharpur block of West Singhbhum district.
Stating that he was neither the MLA nor MP of the area, Ramesh said he had come there many times, because he wanted to provide the tribals a better life.
"But I have seen women here are working from dawn to dusk while men are whiling away time taking liquor from noon. You have to pledge that you would make your village a dry zone," Ramesh exhorted the dwellers, with whom he interacted with close proximity during his visit here to mark the Republic Day celebrations.
Assuring that the Centre would give them more roads, more development projects, he said, "My next promise to you is providing electricity. During my next visit, I should see electric lamps in your households."
Ramesh reminded the tribals how they had endured the Maoist menace for over a decade before the security forces flushed them out of the Saranda forests about a year ago.
"Resist the Naxalites bravely, and the government is with you. Democracy has no alternative and gives you a humane existence while the Maoists believe in spreading terror and destruction. Now you are living fearlessly," he said.
"The Maoists believed in jungle rule while we believe in Gram Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha," the Union minister said.
"Normally, ministers celebrate Republic Day in New Delhi or in state capitals. But I chose to celebrate amidst youas I told in Digha (another village near Saranda forest) that when I die my last rites should be performed there. But before that I have many things to do for you all- providing roads, electricity, drinking water, sanitation and many other things," Ramesh said.
Asserting that the danger of Maoists has gone up in their villages, he asked the people not to allow them to destroy their tribal culture.
The adjoining villages have about 120 tribal families.