Guwahati: Union Minister Arjun Munda on Monday said the Centre is planning to transform 36,000 hamlets to “model tribal villages” with an emphasis on rural development, protection of forest rights and ethnic practices of indigenous people.

Of these villages, 1,700 will be in Assam, the tribal affairs minister said here.

“We are planning to develop these villages in such a manner that various factors like rural development, protection of ethnic or autonomous systems, forest rights and entrepreneurship can be linked, Munda told reporters.

Under the programme, basic amenities will also be improved in the selected villages, he said.

“We have discussed this with chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma here. Villages with over 50 per cent tribal population will be given preference for the proposed programme, he said. Munda was on a two-day visit to the state to review the functioning of various schemes of the Tribal Affairs’ ministry.

He said the ministry is running all schemes and programmes with an aim at the holistic development of the tribal communities.

During the visit, the minister reviewed the progress of implementation of tribal development programmes, including Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce and Van Dhan Self Help Groups.

“I was shown more than 25 products developed by the tribal beneficiaries of the state. It is very encouraging,” he said.

The Union minister held meetings with Governor Jagdish Mukhi and the chief minister among others during the visit.

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