Raigad district has a total population of 22 lakhs out of which 76% stay in rural areas. The district has a sizable ST population of 12% and 3% of the total population is Dalit. There is a major concentration of tribal population in Roha, Alibagh, Shrivardhan and Tala and a concentration of Dalits in Tala and Mangaon. The average sex ratio in 7 blocks is 1113 and only two blocks (Roha and Alibagh) are trailing with an average sex ratio of 961 (still better that many states in India). Average literacy rate is 76% (67% amongst females) that is well above the national literacy rate. Though most of the dalit and tribal villagers associated with sangathan are illiterate and have poor health facilities.
Economic and political profile
The area is part of the Konkan region and is situated along the Mumbai – Goa highway and rail track. The villagers are attracted to the urban lifestyle through their regular exposure to Goa and Mumbai. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit the two places, they are exposed to tourists on a frequent basis. The costal belt has a rich and influential Muslim population as most of their relatives are working in West Asia.
The location of the area has resulted in mixed economic opportunities. 39% depend on agriculture, 36% on petty business, industrial labour or jobs in adjoining cities and 23% percent on agricultural labour. Land along the national highway is mushrooming with small scale industries and the sangathan is struggling hard to sustain peoples control on natural livelihood resources like land and forest. Most of the areas are identified for setting up MIDC and now SEZs area also in the pipeline. Challenges like displacement and unemployment are increasing drastically.
Sarvahara Jan Andolan (SJA)
SJA is working in more than 750 villages in 7 talukas (Roha, Shrivardhan, Tala, Mhasla, Mangaon, Raigarh and Mahad) of Raigad. The region is located in the Western Ghats and is part of the Konkan area of Maharashtra. It is 100 kms south of Mumbai and is criss-crossed by the Mumbai-Goa highway. Raigad has a total area of 7148 sq. kms. Many of the villages are situated on hilly terrain. The region is part of the Konkan industrial belt starting from Mumbai and going south towards Goa.
SJA started out by taking up the issue of Dali Land (land on hill slopes) and then moved on to take up other land issues, atrocities against tribals and proper implementation of government programmes. In the process, SJA has been able to build the self-esteem and collective strength of the Katkari tribe and other oppressed sections. The village volunteers organize village level meetings and mobilize villagers on various issues. Women’s involvement with the sangathan is excellent. Several women or girls from the community are activists or volunteers.
All the activists and volunteers come together to celebrate the annual day of sangathan. Achievements and successful case studies are shared with the local leaders. Annual income and expenditure is also shared with everybody to maintain sangathan’s transparency.
Endeavors of SJA
Religious and caste-based coexistence
National Movements and Campaigns