The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) is home to over 30 indigenous communities. Among these seven are identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal groups (PVTG), needing special developmental assistance. They are the Kurumba, Irula, Kota, Toda, Paniya, Kaatunayakan and the Cholanayakan communities.
Every year the Ministry of Tribal Welfare allots dedicated funds for PVTGs to develop housing, animal husbandry, and other necessary quality of life improvements. This fund has not reached the PVTGs in the NBR to the degree that they should. To address this issue, two meetings have been held at Keystone for the Kurumba community from Kotagiri and Coonoor regions wherein accessing and utilizing these funds were discussed. Monitoring the PVTG Fund was also discussed. This effort was done in collaboration with the Environmental Governance Group. We hope to get more disbursals of this fund to the Nilgiris as a whole in the coming years.
Political empowerment and inclusion in public decision making processes is critical in helping PVTGs articulate their specific needs in development programmes.