Tribals of Koyarangapuram performing traditional dance
Tribals of Koyarangapuram performing traditional dance

Kothagudem: Traditional tribal dancers who perform dances while launching important government schemes and at the inaugural of important conferences feel that the government is using their services but not providing benefit under any of its schemes.  They say that their services are not limited to the State alone, but also to the whole nation.

They perform Kommu Nrutyam and sing songs like “Tum Tum Tudumdebba”, “Adivasi Ambu Debba” and “Telangana Zilla Manaderaa” to entertain the guests. At least 120 tribal families in Koyarangapuram of Aswaraopeta mandal are dependent on their traditional dances for their livelihood. Of them, 30 tribal performers are ready to move to any part of the State to give their performances. They are paid a paltry Rs 500 per head providing them food and transport facilities.

The tribal families have no individual sanitary latrines as the winds of Swachh Bharat are yet to sweep across their village. The officials implementing the Swachh Bharat programme are merely using them to entertain guests but not considering them as target groups for implementing government schemes.

They demand extending them benefit of double bedroom houses. Speaking to The Hans India, the tribal traditional dancer Karam Mallaiah said he and fellow tribal dancers learned the art from their forefathers and entertaining the people. The governments came and went but their fate remained the same. They earn Rs 500 per head for their performance. When there were no programmes scheduled, they work as NREGS workers.  He appealed to the State government to pay attention to their problems and allot two bed-room houses to them in their village and also land for cultivation.

Another artiste Podimi Srinu sought pension payable to the artistes. He along with fellow artistes gave performances in Hyderabad and Delhi to the delight of the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister and other important guests from overseas.  They are showered with praises, but not with any benefits under government schemes.

Yet another artiste Pusam Venkateswarlu, who is highly educated, said that he is giving dance performances for the survival of their art form. In spite of his education, he said he still remained unemployed. He sought employment and establishing a tribal academy to safeguard their art form and to prevent its extinction.

A female dancer Saraswati, who is graduated from a university, said that she was performing the dance out of love for their traditional art form. She sought payment of honorarium to the tribal dancers. A tribal drummer Ch Ravi said he used to beat the drums ever since he was a young boy. He said he accompanied his father to several dance performances. For generations, they are giving the dance performances but no improvement in their living standards; he lamented and sought support from government.