The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is moving towards finalising the draft National Tribal Policy,hanging fire since it was conceptualised in 2006,to address development concerns of the Scheduled Tribes in an integrated manner.
Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo told The Indian Express that he plans to convene a meeting of the Expert Committee on National Tribal Policy next month to finalise the broad contours of the draft policy.
The ministry had drafted the policy the first ever in 2006 under minister,P R Kyndiah. We are reviewing the long winded 2006 draft. A tribal policy should be crisp,focussed,relate to the present situation,yet be futuristic, Deo said. The minister constituted and will head a five-member committee,to prepare a fresh draft.
The older draft policy addresses issues like alienation of tribal land,tribal-forest interface,displacement,rehabilitation and resettlement,enhancing human development Index and livelihood opportunities as well as stemming distress migration.
Apart from development aspects,the revised draft policy will focus on re-devising the criteria for determination of STs as well as the process of scheduling and de-scheduling of STs. The old criteria for scheduling and de-scheduling tribes has become irrelevant. It was set in a different context. There is an immediate need to review the criteria, Deo said.
The minister emphasised on the need for easing the process of scheduling and de-scheduling of STs. It is currently a long process. It first comes from the state governments, then the Registrar General of India approves it,after which it comes to the National Commission for STs and finally to the Tribal Affairs ministry. The RGI should not be required to play a role. We should have a special cell comprising of experts to deal with the issue, Deo said.
He also said that Orissa Governor S C Jamir had assured him of taking up the issue of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills with the state and relevant authorities. Deo had recently written to Jamir,following the Supreme Court judgment over bauxite mining in the hills,urging him to invoke his special constitutional powers to stop the state from allowing firms to get into mining activities in Schedule V (tribal) areas.
We should act within the framework of the constitution. Development should include the locals and should not be at their cost. Constitutional provisions are being flouted in several states,including Chhattisgarh,Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, Deo said,adding it was well within the rights of the Governor in Schedule V areas to take action.