DEURI AUTONOMOUS COUNCIL (DAC)

INTRODUCTION:

The Deori Community is a Scheduled Tribe (Plains) community, numbering about two lakh, are scattered in medium/small villages/parts of villages/settlements in seven upper Assam Districts namely Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. They always loose out in the number game even at the village panchayat level. In order to enable them to have their say in their own socio-economic affairs the Govt. of Assam under Shri Tarun Gogoi formed the Deori Autonomous Council on satellite pattern to cover the scattered population by the Assam Act No XXV of 2005- Deori Autonomous Council Act 2005 "for the social, economic, educational, ethnic and cultural advancement of the Deoris and other Scheduled Tribes Communities residing there-in."

AIM:

The aim of the DAC is empowerment of the people by enabling them to take part in all the decision making activities, decentralisation of power down to the grass-root level by forming Gaon Sabhas, equitable distribution of funds on the basis of village-wise population for inclusive socio-economic advancement and peaceful co-existence with all the other neighbouring communities. We have not included any other community in the DAC, as all the other communities either have their own ethnic councils or in the process of having one and prefer to stay there. On the other hand we have included every Deori community families of Assam in the DAC. We donot have tension with our neighbouring communities.

METHOD:

1. The DAC is being run by Govt. nominated Interim Executive Council till holding of elections and the present nine member council took charge in April2007.

2. The DAC is divided into 125 numbers of Gaon Sabhas - each Gaon Sabha consisting of twenty-five members nominated by the people of the area. These Gaon Sabhas assisted by the local units of Jatiya Sangathans control all activities of the DAC within their jurisdictions.

3. 50% of the total Annual Plan Funds are earmarked exclusively for the Gaon Sabhas on the basis of population. Each Gaon Sabha prepare projects as per local requirements and the same are allowed to be implemented through the supervision of the territorial Executive Members after scrutiny at the Headquarters. The remaining 50% works are taken up from the Headquarters.

4. In all cases (both Gaon Sabha sponsored and Central Projects), payments are made on receipt of the APRs of the concerned beneficiaries (in cases of supply of materials) and completion reports of the concerned Construction Committees (in cases of constructions): written report of the concerned Gaon Sabhas and the local Jatiya Sangathans and written reports of the territorial Executive Members.

5. All the specific complaints of irregularities are settled by the Territorial Executive Members in presence of the complainants and in front of the concerned Gaon Sabhas and public.

6. In order to avoid duplicity we donot take up the Govt. and Govt. aided institutions. Before taking up any schemes we check up with local Gaon Panchayats

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE DACs SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES:

1. Increasing productivity by supporting every family level traditional means of livelihood and economic activities - agriculture, animal husbandry including fisheries and weaving. We assist them as per requirements like ploughing by tractors, providing seeds and manures, small irrigations including wells and tube-wells, agricultural tools and implements, bullocks for ploughing; providing piglets and goats for rearing, fish lings for fisheries; tea saplings; agar saplings etc for horticulture; yarn and improved looms for the innumerable weavers.

2. 30% of our families who's primary means of earning is daily wage earning are termed as BPL families. We are focusing on increasing their productivity of their marginal land holdings and capabilities and also catering for their basic shelters by providing CGI-sheets, mosquito nets, tube-wells for drinking water; thelas, cycles are provided to them for their daily wage earning activities.

3. We are also encouraging the educated unemployed persons to take up alternative means of livelihood like managing small public carriers, shops, professionals to set up their own establishments and village tourism by constructing guest rooms to be managed by specific families- by offering subsidies and assistance in bank loans.

4. In short we are supporting the maximum numbers individual families in their chosen activities so that each of them can advance by taking thousands of small steps towards socio-economic advancement.

5. Human Resource development particularly skill development for increased productivity is our primary focus. So far we have trained 510 number persons in various agricultural, animal husbandry and fishery activities; 27 persons in cultivation of cash crops on sandy and waste land; 32 numbers of weavers and 27numbers of would be entrepreneurs. We have asked all of them to submit projects and after scrutinies - in cases of smaller projects supports through subsidies upto a maximum of Rs10, 000/- each. In cases of larger projects we are supporting them by sponsoring bank loans and subsidies.

6. Weaving is our primary economic activity and virtually every family practices weaving. In order to upgrade the traditional weaving to cater for the larger market of the state, country and if possible beyond- we are collaborating with the Office of the Development Commissioner Handicraft, Govt. of India and sponsoring about 2500 weavers in the AHVY scheme.

7. With effect from 2008-09 Plan Fund we are taking up village-wise infrastructure development works which include construction of roads in the interior paddy fields, agricultural bunds/canals, collective farming/plantations by reclaiming vacant/wasteland, small tea gardens; village roads/paths/bridges; construction of village-wise weaving centres, community come workshop halls, village thanghars and venture schools/institutions.

8. We are also encouraging and the mass based social organisations of students, youths, women, literature and cultural organisations, pujaris and the gaon sabhas to organize mass awareness schemes and workshops in their respective spheres of activities. These include organising health camps, veterinary camps, summer-vacation tuition camps and educational tours and holding of seminars and workshops on socio-economic and legal awareness and empowerment programes.

DIFFICULTIES:

1. Meagre fund allotment (Rs 2 Crores-2006-07, Rs 4 Crores-2007-08 and Rs 11.70 crores-2008-09) and late release of Funds primarily due to bureaucratic indifference.

2. Large numbers of politicians, ex-student leaders, middleman and hangers on are making all out efforts to become executive members of the DAC and have flooded the Govt. with petitions sponsoring them-shelves. Their strategy is to compel the Govt. to dissolve the existing Executive Council with continuous allegations of corruption and irregularities. The Govt. have already instituted Commissioner level enquiry and as we understand the reports are already submitted. As the pressure is on - the Govt. have ordered further enquiries more or less on the same grounds through the DC North-Lakhimpur and the DC Dhemaji. The DAC is fully cooperating in all these enquiries.

CONCLUSON:

As regards proper utilisation of the Funds made available to us, we claim 70% satisfaction level. This satisfaction level is progressively improving with our work experience. However, to have any meaningful impact, the DAC will need minimum Annual Plan Budget of Rs 50 Crores on each year during the next five years period.



Chief Executive Councilor, DAC