Gorakhpur (UP), Nov 5 (PTI) The people of Vantangiya community are busy making preparations to welcome Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the occasion of Diwali on Wednesday.

The Vantangiya people, who were brought here from Mayanmar during colonial rule for afforestation activities, said they are grateful to Adityanath for declaring five villages in Gorakhpur and 23 villages in Maharajganj, where they mostly live, as ‘revenue villages’.

A revenue village is a small administrative region with defined borders. One revenue village may contain many hamlets. A village administrative officer is the head officer of a revenue village.

Local women and girls have prepared a welcome song to thank the chief minister.

“Girls have prepared Saraswati Vandana welcome song, and a song based on cleanliness. We are cleaning every nook and corner of the village to welcome the CM. For us Diwali means ‘Maharaj ji’ (Adityanath), as we started celebrating the festival 20 years ago only after he started coming to our village on Diwali,” Shaguni, a resident of Tinkonia village, told a visiting PTI correspondent.

The Vantangiya villages in Gorakhpur have witnessed a lot of changes in the past one year after Adityanath became the chief minister, said Alekh Sharan, a primary school teacher in the village.

“The first batch of 15 students have completed high school last year and education has brought many positive changes in their lives,” Sharan said.

Electricity, television and mobile phones have come to the villages providing the villagers with better connectivity with the outside world.

With availability of potable water and toilets, the villages are becoming comfortable, said locals.

Under PM Awas scheme, the construction of houses has started and every house will have a toilet, village head of Tinkonia, Ram Ganesh, said.

“We have received Antyodaya cards which ensure at least 35 kg food grain. We are feeling like human beings and it is all due to ‘Maharaj ji’,” he said.

While describing the history of Vantangiya community, Ashok Srivastav, educationist and social worker said, “Around 99 years before Independence, the British government started using people for cleaning and developing forests. These people were called Tangya farmers and later a cult of Vantangiya started.” The farmers did not have any ownership rights over the land and they had only right over their crops.

Vantangiyas used to cultivate crops inside the forest and were totally dependent on forest for their livelihood.

Conversion of tribal-dominated forest villages to revenue villages under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act will enable the administration to adopt development measures such as setting up of schools, dispensaries, and other facilities in these villages.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.