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Odisha extends Special Development Council to 14 more districts

Bhubaneswar: To conserve and develop the tribal art and culture of Odisha, the state government has extended the Special Development Councils (SDC) to 14 more districts.

Launching the SDC in the new districts in an event held at the Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “Odisha is known as the Land of Lord Jagannath. Our tribal culture is deeply associated with the Jagannath culture. In our cultural beliefs, nature and the environment play an important role. Nature worship and brotherhood have been the base of tribal culture. From freedom struggle to politics, literature, sports, and other sectors, the indigenous people of Odisha have left their indelible mark and brought laurels for the state. I am proud of their contributions.”

The SDCs were introduced in 2017 in nine tribal-dominated districts, covering 117 blocks, 2022 GPS, and including 60 lakh people. With the inclusion of 14 new districts, the total number of SDC blocks now touches 172.The additional SDCs in 14 districts will cover 85 lakhs tribal population.

“For the development of tribal culture and art, the state government has committed to spend Rs 223 crores in the financial year 2023-24,” shared Patnaik.

Odisha is home to the most diverse population of the indigenous tribes. Out of 62 janajati inhabiting in the state, 13 are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG). The custom and traditions, totems, cultural practices, and social organization of these tribes constitute an inseparable part of tribal identity. Each has an identity unique and varied from others. SDC is a celebration of this uniqueness.

“Tribal culture teaches us how to protect and live in unison with nature. I hope more research should be conducted. All our policies aim at the empowerment of tribals. I believe that the SDCs would work towards these aspects,” he stated.

The SDCs have been taking up various activities such as preserving the sacred groves, building culture clubs, conducting cultural events and exposure visits, and identifying artisans and artists.

The new SDC has been set up in Angul, Balangir, Balasore, Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Nayagarh, and Sambalpur.

“The additional SDCs will help us in the conservation of tribal art and culture. The state government is committed to protecting and preserving the rich tribal heritage of Odisha,” said Patnaik, who also released a coffee table book on the occasion.

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