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Dr. Tanaji G. Rathod
General Manager-Finance  
Karnataka Thanda Development Corporation Limited
No.6, GPR Tower, Takser Town, Opp: Goshia Hospital , Shivajinagar, BANGALORE – 560051.
Email ID: ,
Mob:98453 81805, (Office)


The objectives of this paper are to find out the rural infrastructural hurdles and socio-economic issues faced by the banjara tribal community which is one of the SC/ST communities in Karnataka. This study conducted to review the present status, investigate their issues for rural infrastructure development, socio-economic development of banjara community in the state. This community people are basically living in remote countryside, hilly areas or nearby revenue villages. Their thandas are not regularized as revenue villages and hence In the development process, they deprived of much needed basic civic amenities, infrastructure facilities, employment opportunities, agricultural income and wealth creation avenues etc., in the state. They are in dire need of basic needs like, shelter, rural infrastructure, sanitary systems, roads, transportation, primary education, healthcare facilities etc.  Recently, the Government of Karnataka has perceived their long standing demands and it has formed the separate development company i.e., Karnataka Thanda development corporation Ltd to look after their overall socio-economic development so that they can come into mainstream of the society. This case study has been carried out at KTDC to investigate further the inside genesis of the socio-economic issues, hurdles and to suggest strategic suggestions. For this, the author has travelled across the state, visited most of the thandas(hamlets), discussed with inhabitants, local leaders, experts and reviewed their civic amenities, infrastructural problems. Many innovative strategies and developmental programs have been suggested for the state. The findings of the study could be replicated elsewhere especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, or for rural development of India.


Since many of us are unaware of their tradition, culture, history, language etc, it is given here their background and brief profile. Banjaras means – a community of tribal people belongs to Banjara, Lambani, Gore, Sugali, Labada or any other synonyms used to identify Banjaras Community especially in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere. This is a rare tribal community which is having its own history, rich cultural heritage in the Indian society. They are mostly settled and concentrated in hamlets on Deccan plateau of India.  Their population is about twenty five lakhs in Karnataka (Thanda survey by KTDC, 2012). Over a period, due to influence of modernization, westernization and externalities, they are facing several internal social problems, lack of rural infrastructure.  They are one of the most socio-economically and educationally backward communities of the country. They live mostly in the inaccessible or remotely situated undulating terrain and have been far behind the mainstream of economic development of India. Therefore, their livelihood sustainability is the main concern in the state. The policy options and programmes of livelihood development of this banjara community were fettered with many such dichotomies and debate which often relevant in the context of other poverty reduction programmes too.  They are in need of aggressive development programs. The diversified agriculture/farming system, education and income generation avenues, skill improvement rural enterprises based on technology, value addition in bio-products, emphasizing on quality infrastructure creation and close partnership with wealth creators etc, are essential in structuring livelihood programmes for this community. The scheduled caste category comprise of 101 sub-castes in Karnataka and SC population was at 16.20% of total Karnataka. Banjaras represents 11.85% of SCs (2001 census). 75 % of SCs are in rural area. Banjaras are at 12% representing third largest after Adi Karnataka and  madiga. 89% of banjaras are residing in rural area and  43% of them are literates and only 28.8% of them are female literacy rate. As per recent census 2011, total of 6.11 crores of Karnataka population which is 5% of nation moving at 15.67% growth over decade, literacy rate achieved at 75.60%   Members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes still lived under deplorable conditions in the rural areas despite more than six decades of Independence. This is a downtrodden community of scheduled caste category which inhabited across the state in all the twenty-five districts of Karnataka. Exceptionally, they are invisible in some districts viz., Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Udupi and Kolar.  There are more than 3000 thandas in the state. It is roughly estimated that they are about (35) thirty five lakhs living and settled across the state.  In each thandas, ranging from 500 to 3000 people live in. These thandas have not yet been considered as revenue villages except 300 thandas recently. Hence they are out of the purview of fiscal benefits, planning programmes etc. They are mostly invisible in coastal Karnataka but migrated for employment opportunities here and there. They are also concentrated majorly in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and in northern part of India.

Hence, in one of the study of UN-Habitas’s State of Asian Cities Report of 2010-11 says that policy makers must give more recognition to the informal sector which sat side by side with symbols of Asia’s successful integration with the world economy and provided “a fair amount of socio-economic resilience. Low income communities have contributed to the prosperity of the Asian cities and improved education will help the formal and informal sectors take advantage of new opportunities in the global and domestic markets. Time immemorial, racism is existed in Indian society. The history of categorizing some castes as scheduled castes commenced with the Government of India Act, 1935. Untouchable Hindu classes were divided into three categories such as untouchables, unapproachables and unseeables. They were forced to occupy the dirty, dingy and unhygienic outskirts of villages and towns for habitations where they lived in dark for ages. Insanitary and miserable smoky shanties or cottages were their places for settlement (Dhananjay Keer, 1954, 2009). This picture is still true in villages and towns. Megacities have now mostly overcome this prejudice.  In the 16th and 17th centuries, when Britishers occupied the place in India, they were playing on imperialistic alien rule and they were playing neutral role in respect of the untouchables and were in effect a negative support to the caste Hindu oppressors at that pointy of time.  Therefore, Dr Bhabassaheb Ambedkar rose to as social crusader/political reformer to eradicate caste system and differentiation, equality in the society. A larger proportion of the population  especially the weaker sections such as women, landless labourers, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the backward communities have not shared the benefits of growth in the state.  The greatest single issue that comes into focus is the wide gap between the Scheduled Castes and the general population along almost all human development indicators in the state. 


The Government of Karnataka vide its order No.SWD:35:SDC:07, Bangalore dated 31.08.2007 had ordered to set up a new Company for the development of infrastructure facilities and community halls for Banjara community in Karnataka. Hence, Karnataka Thanda Development Corporation Limited has been incorporated on 23.2.2009 under the Companies Act of 1956. It is a wholly owned by Government of Karnataka undertaking. This corporation is under the administrative control of Social Welfare department of Government of Karnataka. The corporation is basically focusing on creating necessary infrastructure facilities like road, drinking water, sanitation, street lights, etc In all the thandas (smaller then revenue villages) settled in nearby villages, hillocks, remote area of Karnataka etc. Eventually, the State government perceived its socioeconomic issues which suffered by large number of banjara/lambani community since ages. The banjara community as a whole is lacking in getting basic infrastructure needs. To bring them up on economic mainstream or social inclusion, it is proposed with the following set of main objectives.
To create physical, socio-economic, cultural, moral, educational and healthcare related infrastructure for the overall development of thandas in particular & thanda habitants in general and  to develop and facilitate to develop basic infrastructure like all weather approach road’s, internal roads, drains, housing & transportation and communication facilities, community center’s etc.  
To create such economic infrastructure that provides an opportunity for the thanda habitants to engage in self-employment and group employment / income generation activities and to undertake training programmes for acquiring new skills and upgrading / enhancing and developing the skills in various fields, especially the traditional unique Kasuti skill (stitching & embroidery) of Banjara costumes to attract young Lambani generation and fashion world to renew, promote & strengthen socio economic conditions of the community.
To facilitate in providing legal title to agriculture land of Banjara formers who are cultivating for the livelihood since long time in forest land / Government land/ Gomal land.  And also to facilitate in providing legal status to thanda’s by way of providing legal titles over the sites and houses constructed in forest land, Government land / Gomal and in private land and also to regularize the sites and houses occupied by thanda habitants in such lands from ages.  And to facilitate and to co-ordinate with the concerned departments in converting the remaining thanda’s (hamlet village’s) into revenue villages.
To renew, promote & strengthen the social institutions (mutts) existed over ages in thandas for administering their value system, social affairs in order to create proper awareness and to enhance the morals of the people living in thanda’s and to protect the Banjara dialect and to promote and develop the script of Banjara language and also to bring out a dictionary of the language to protect, preserve, and to promote the rich culture of Banjara’s in the areas of language, customs, life style, traditions, art and folklore, ethnicity and costumes of Banjara’s in thandas.
The objects sought to be achieved are purely for a social cause and not for a profit motive. Therefore, it is in the nature of a non-profit organization and it would be appropriate to register the Corporation under the provisions Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. Based on the above objectives, the corporation is carrying out the various programmes under the supervision of social welfare department of Government of Karnataka. In a span of two years of operations, initially the corporation has implemented rural infrastructural projects in selected 20 districts in various thandas of Karnataka. In the years to come, it is proposed to continue the same in other thandas with additional developmental schemes. There are several programmes implemented through social welfare department like plan and non-plan schemes which flown from state level to district lever to taluk level. Schedule caste sub plan (SCSP) scheme is under special component plan which is comprehensive integrated, planned development effort directed towards eradicating poverty among the SC and providing to them habitation and much needed basic infrastructure facilities in thandas.  There are 114 backward taluks out of 175 identified taluks identified by High Power Committee for Redressal of Regional Imbalance (HFC FRRI) in the state using 35 socio-economic indicators viz.,on agricultural, industry, trade, finance, and infrastructure and population characteristics. The North-South divide on socio-economic development is clearly apparent in the state. In this report, it is noticed that to wipe out this regional imbalance, government is proposed Special Development Plan with a projected funds of Rs.31000 Cr for a period of eight years.

The literature review has been done from the available research books, thesis, and analyzed data from government departments and from the case study organization. Many of the research students have chosen this community for research study and obtained PhD degrees in India and in foreign universities too. This community has treasure of rich information, culture, tradition, Indian ethos, problems, social issues, economic problems etc. Prominent literature like Dr. D.M. Nanjundappa (HFC FRRI, 2002), Sanjay Sinha (2007), A.K. Verma (2007), IIMB,CPP Proceedings (2007), AIBSS(2004), M.Krishnamurthy(2000), Bhangya Bhukya (2010), N. Raju Naik(2006), R.H. Naik(2008),  D. B. Naik, (2007) Harilal Pwar,(2007), P.K.Khandoba (2002), GoK compendium (2006),Sannarama Naik,(2008), M.R. Chavan (2010) etc has been referred to. All of the above have focused on socio-economic issues, cultural, political issues etc.  Many ethnographers and anthropologists are posing questions that who is the aborigines of this community? How come this culture, customs tradition and language are highly intergraded in India and remained in preserve in spite of scatted or dispersed across the India? When did this community of nomadic caravanners first appear in the historical accounts? What are the terms used by medieval chroniclers and early European travelers to describe the nomadic caravanners? How were those terms replaced with the modern term ‘Banjara’? etc.  However, to find out the real stories behind this skepticism, this study has been conducted with the following objectives.

1    To find out the infrastructural issues faced by banjara tandas in the state;
2    To find out the socio-economic problems of banjara community,
3    To review the financing options available for the development of banjara tandas and
4    To suggest the ways and means, innovative strategies, developmental schemes, policy guidelines for the overall development of banjaras and their thandas in the state to bring them up into the economic mainstream. 
To meet the said objectives, sector wise, objective wise schemes to be formulated, physical and financial progresses have to be carried out to analyze the progress. In this process, certain bottlenecks in this regard were identified. There is lack of awareness about the grievance redressal mechanism and the provision for unemployment allowance. There is a need to improve marketing and technical infrastructure, necessity to tie-up with institution and improve product quality for the rural mass.


The present work is exploratory in nature and is based on the primary data collected from the personal visits at various thandas across the state. These areas do not have sufficient access to information, transportation modes. It was tried to get acquainted with people’s problems and needs to understand their perceptions about rural development programmes. The participants –observation method was followed. Secondary data has been obtained from planning and statistical dept, Social welfare dept and KTDC. Most of the discussions and analysis work is based on primary data, field study and inspection carried out by the authors across the state. 


Based on the literature review, findings of the study, a detailed analysis has been discussed here. There are different aspects has been chosen for different issues in lambani/banjara thandas. These are following issues having been discussed.


These thanda inhabitants are basically migrated and roamed from place to place and region to region. Therefore they don’t have any identity, asset creation except their culture and tradition is unbreakably carry forwarded through the ages. The astonishing thing that they have very rich heritage like, costumes, unscripted language, ladies wears, rituals, etc.  But due to urbanization, it is also disappearing. They live mostly in mud houses/huts made with gross and small wooden pieces. Therefore, first and foremost, all the thandas have to be provided with infrastructure facilities, electricity connections, roads, sanitation, straight lights, houses etc. They have to provide with rural housing facilities. Along with the thandas should be provided adequate sanitation facilities like toilets, bathing facilities, gutters, and solid waste management units nearby thandas. Due to unhygienic conditions, many children and women are suffering from contagious deceases especially in north Karnataka. Secondly there is biggest problems is that the drinking water availability. Most of the hamlets are in remote areas and hillocks are away from revenue villages. They are facing problems in getting potable drinking water. They are fetching from open nearby ponds, open wells. Most of the bore wells are dried up. Other than irrigated areas, the dry land part of the northern Karnataka is very pathetic.  Access to sanitary litrines remained at a low level in rural areas of the State with less than 10% of households in the villages having the facility.  Therefore, tanks or ponds are to be de-silted so that ground water is recharged.   In this regard, vide its Govt. Order SWD 66 SLP 09, Bangalore dated. 01.09.2009. It has ordered for development of infrastructure to thandas. The main eligibility criterion is as follows: There should be maximum population in the Thandas. Where thandas basically deprived of infrastructure facilities, for such thandas priority will be given. To avail infrastructure, it should have never been considered / earlier.  In these thandas, Civil Work would be provided for Drinking Water, Public Toilets, Drainage, Street lights, Cement Roads etc. initially 300 thandas have been taken up for program implementation and remaining around 2700 thandas would be taken up in a phased manner.


Many of the hamlets have become like slum colonies. Governments can’t alone provide all the facilities for the well beings of the rural mass.   Village inhabitants have to come up with weekly/monthly awareness programmes on environments, resources utilization, cleaning of their surroundings etc. In the development process, educated people migrate to nearby towns and cities in seeking employment opportunities. Subsequently, these well-off people seldom revert to their natives. Therefore these elite people should be encouraged to give back to society, involve them into development process of their respective hamlets. Due to lack of education to women and children, exploitation is taking place at work place. Selling of child, poverty, selling of illicit liquor and its easily availability, harassment by the police/excise depts., is common in most of the hamlets.  The de-addiction camps should be set up in hamlets. To curb the practices, there should be rehabilitation and resettlement programmes to be implemented in affected regions. 


Though this community has rich cultural heritages, some of the banjaras who are illiterates, suffering from poverty are converting to Christian. They are being lured by meager amount of gifts and perquisites. They have become vagabonds. It’s a social stigma to them. Over a period, they neither follow Christianity nor banjara culture. They will not be accepted easily in the society for social gatherings or rituals. They become destitute children of the society. Therefore, instead of shifting from one community to another, they have to stay there it, create their own healthy atmosphere, social attachment for themselves. These communities have a unique system of providing justice to the society. So-called panchayat system since ages. There are three prominent persons like Naik, Karbhari and davo. They are providing justice absolutely in unbiased way and hence avoiding all court expenses for the litigants. Most of the family problems, domestic issues, village to village disputes are sorted out through these people only.  There are several religious places of sevalal, durgamba, mariyamma etc. these places should be provided with civic amenities so that pilgrims can go and visit the places comfortably.  

In the hamlets, children and women are suffering due to lack of proper healthcare facilities. Therefore there is need of rural healthcare units, supported by staff nurses, paramedical facilities, rural doctors etc.  Mobile health clinics should be provided for hamlets under PPP mode. Because everything may not be possible to government to provide.  Reconfigure the primary healthcare system in rural areas. it is perceived that doctors would not stay in villages. Hence with the combination of technology and reasonable amount of training to local nurses under the supervision of doctors, can deliver superior outcomes.  National rural health mission, rural ambulance service can be helpful that provide secondary and tertiary care to larger hospitals, telemedicine pilots which involve remote diagnosis.

To create employment opportunities in the banjara thandas, the government has to come out with different programmes. It has to create agricultural activities. Employment guarantee scheme under NREGA to be brought in. Dairying, farming,  sheep rearing, micro financing, tailoring, nursing etc to be provided at least in nearby villages. Many of the banjaras go to nearby states in seeking short term employment opportunities. To avoid this, the government has to provide schemes under Provision of  Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) of central government.  Provide agricultural lands to landless labourers and irrigation facilities to marginal farmers for that they themselves create job for family members and for locals.
To stop the migration of the rural people to urban, there should be created industry clusters and cottage industry in nearby towns and cities. So that they can get industrial awareness and opportunities.  This community is very rich in costumes making of ladies wears and embroidery works. In the olden days they themselves, were preparing their colorful dresses, and wearing etc. Even now, many ladies are carrying the same tradition and preparing lambani dresses. Therefore, apparel training centres should be created and every women and girls should be provided the dress making skills in the hamlets so that they can become self sustained income generating families.  SSI sector and cottage industry will make significant contributions to employment generation and also to rural industrialization, the sector needs further investments in technology production process, R&D and marketing. The promotional activities for SSI and need to concentrate on improved credit flows, human resource development, appropriate technology and funds for modernization etc. There should be effective policies to enhance rural livelihood opportunities through financial inclusion.

There is no clear cut demarcation of thandas that where they are situated, land availability, exact populations etc. therefore, the Government of Karnataka wants to create database of all the thandas of the state. It would be helpful to know the boundaries of thandas, their infrastructure status, way forward for creation etc.  For this, the help from Karnataka state remote sensing application centre is to be obtained. To harness the potential of remote sensing and geographic information system techniques for developing a digital database of natural resources and rural thanda sprawl in the state. Geospatial information is increasingly becoming an indispensible tool for planning, decision making, water resources management, land use, agriculture crop, increase, production, estimation, wasteland mapping, vegetation cover and change detection, environmental impact assessment etc. it will help to know that what is the exact population, how many thandas in the state, what is their landholdings etc.  So that it would be helpful to guide them properly. Some of the banjaras are marginal farmers, landholders, in thandas. It would be helpful to them that soil condition will be detected, tested and it would be informed them that which crop should be cultivated in the agricultural lands based on their climate.


Under the HFC FRRI, there are 114 taluks are considered as backward. Most of these are from north Karnataka region and banjara thandas are lying in these areas. Therefore under the special development plan for the period of eight years, it has been proposed to earmark budgetary funds to these regions. However, it is not reaching to the needy places and people.    There is a striking demographic diversity across the regions/districts/taluks/ communities in the state. There is a need of multidimensional approach in breaking this syndrome. Role of the public sector and PPP, local management and local input is needed.  Infrastructure planning and design is required.  It requires review of the policy framework in rural sectors. I feel now the government must actively consider every possible avenues of accessing foreign fund, private sector fund for long term funding. At least private participation/public involvement should be there. Look into the benefits that the SC/STs have availed themselves, by consulting deputy commissioners, chief executive officers of the zilla panchayats, bankers and other officers redefine the programmes as per their needs. SSI should be encouraged in the nearby thandas. BPO centers should be opened up, cottage industry should be encouraged. Embroidery, apparel centers should be encouraged. Purchasing power to be improved. Living pattern of the inhabitants, socio economic model,  textile firms, IT firms, packaging industries, training centers, NGO, oral communications skills,  low cost business models to be encouraged. addressing the challenges, personal investment behaviors to be improved, electricity supply under rural schemes, health care centers, social gathering buildings, play ground areas etc., are to be created. Recently government has provided Rs.1 crore to each 20 districts so that necessary infrastructure is created. Remaining would be carried out in phased manner. But it is not sufficient. Some of the social organizations of the community are demanding that every year at least Rs.300 crores be provided.    The corporation or the Government of Karnataka has to find out the financing option from multilateral agencies viz., WB, ADB, NABARD, Central schemes and redefine the strategies integrating with Provision of  Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) schemes of Ministry of Rural Development of Government India. PPP framework can be implemented for providing livelihood opportunities and urban amenities to improve the quality of life in rural areas. Take assistance from ministry of social justice and empowerment, GoI etc.   

The procedure for implementation of the banjara bhavans at districts and sevalal bhavans at taluks of KTDC works is that, the DSW officer in the respective area should inspect and find out the suitable place and inform the implementation committee and submit a report within 15 days.  For these purpose, he has to approach Urban Development Authority for allotment of land, if it is fail, the land may be purchased from the Private Party.  The implementing Department / Agency have to prepare estimate and gets administrative approval from the respective DCs.  The respective implementation Department has to take technical approval for the work.  After that the work is handed over to the suitable department and agency for implementation of the work.   This committee has to review the progress and quality with the reasonable time and see that work has to be completed within a stipulated period.  The respective DC of the district are monitoring and reviewing the overall progress. The whole work has to be processed in the Karnataka Transparency and Public Procurement Act 1999 and has to follow work procedure and rules and regulations under the said Act. 

For these, the implementation Committee under the Chairmanship of DC, there will be CEO as a Member, respective Taluk Panchayath Officer as a Member, respective Taluk Social Welfare Officer as a Member and respective DSW as Member Secretary.  There are 10 steps to be followed as procedural aspects for the implementation of basic infrastructure facilities in thandas. District Social Welfare Officer / Taluk Social Welfare officer both should go to visit the respective thandas and identify which work has to be taken up.  They have to discuss with respective MLAs, local leaders and residents.  Prepare a table and bring it before the implementation committee for the approval.  District Level Committee of Thandas and Civil Work after approval they all earmarked to the respective suitable department / agency like Nirmithi Kendra, Karnataka Rural Infrastructure, ZP, PWD etc. for construction work and procurement of goods and services. Such selected thandas, there should be Action Plan be prepared and send it to the Social Welfare Commissioner for approval.  After that, Commissioner, SWD, releases first installment for the development of Civil Works.     If the proposals are not come for the suitable time, the Commissioner, SWD can redirect where there is more demand for the funds and works. All the work should be completed within 3-4 months and providing basic infrastructure facilities in thandas. Due to its cumbersome and long process, it is very difficult to implement the programs.  The implementing agency has to see the progress and quality of the work within stipulated period and take over all the monitoring of the work.    After that, the utilization certificates have to be submitted to the Commissioner, SWD, and next installment will be released. The government polices should focus to find out the poorest of the poor and provide them necessary facilities so that they can come up in the mainstream of the society. The villagers themselves should tell that who is the poor and not by politicians. In many of the corners of the society, there is a resistance that politicians are biased in implementing the development schemes. Therefore t cut short this procedure, the KTDC has to directly involve and implement the programmes.


This banjara community has been suffering from the ages in the socio-economic issues. Therefore the government has to consult the local people and get their views and feedback. Based on their suggestions, they have to provide assistance to bring them in mainstream of the economic development. How to integrate the rural folk with towns and cities and metros is important task. Poverty reduction programmes must focus on social empowerment instead of being stand-alone programmes. Transport and communication facilities has to be provided. Under Integrated Rural Development Plan (IRDP) , sustainable allied agricultural schemes like, sheep rearing, trade and business, dairy development should be encouraged. Poverty alleviation strategy  like delivery of micro-finance-plus service to the marginalized and vulnerable poor at a minimum cost will have wider impact on the socio-economic well-being of the poor banjaras. Demand-driven approach project under PPP to be implemented. To opt for private participation, bring reforms into the system through commercial approach and at the same time making allowance for cross subsidy to protect the genuine poor.  There is an immediate need to boost industrial climate by providing the required infrastructure in north Karnataka backward taluks and districts to wipe out the industrial disparity, regional imbalance, to provide labor intensive employment opportunities.  Thanda water supply and sanitation programs are to be taken up with the assistance of World Bank/ADB/NABARD. The Government can set up a highly specialized research cell in a social science research institute, preferably in North Karnataka to monitor the developments towards redressal of regional disparity (HFCFRRI 2002). Government is thinking to focus on this issue to wipe out regional imbalance in the state and earmarking budgetary support every year. In a nutshell, the KTDC has to framework and design the developmental programmes based on its main objectives. Get the action plan approval from the Board/Government and try for financing option from the central government, multilateral agencies like ADB, WB, Financial institution etc. if not can go for capital market for raising the finance. As per our survey, there are more than 1018 thandas (9 lacs banjara population) concentrated in Hyderabad-karnataka region which is most backward in the state. Due to special provision of article 371 of the constitution, to pave the way for inclusive development of the region by providing the reservation in employment and educational avenues and also providing statutory status to the development board, the area and people of banjara may hopefully get the benefits of developmental activities in the region.
 Updated on July 03, 2014-------------------------------------------------------------------