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Lower bar for tribals,says Bhuria

The government has found new ammunition in its fight against Naxalites — more facilities to tribals to bring them to the mainstream.

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | September 8, 2010 3:33:58 am

The government has found new ammunition in its fight against Naxalites — more facilities to tribals to bring them to the mainstream.

In a bid to counter Naxalites’ influence on tribals and boost their development,the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is preparing an action plan,a key feature of which is “relaxation” in education qualification and height for tribal candidates aspiring to join the paramilitary forces.

Other features include awarding contracts to “locals” to implement government schemes and a ban on liquor shops in Adivasi areas.

The ministry is finalising the blueprint and will soon send it to the Home Ministry and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After much deliberation,the Tribal Affairs Ministry decided to recommend that the height norm for recruitment into paramilitary forces be relaxed for tribal candidates. It also suggested that the minimum educational qualification requirement should be brought down from matriculation to Class VIII.

The relaxation in the education criteria is being sought on the grounds that educational facilities in remote tribal areas are grossly inadequate. “Today tribals are drifting backwards and the PM is concerned about it. We have to give them employment. Our Ministry is,therefore,in favour of giving relaxation to them in height and education criteria for their recruitment in paramilitary forces,” Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria said on Tuesday.

“Besides,the entire Mahua economy has been destroyed in tribal areas. We would like liquor contracts in these areas to be stopped. Societies of tribals should be formed to collect tendu leaves. Today,big contractors and even those involved in mining pay money to Naxalites who pass on a fraction of it to tribals. We,therefore,have to involve tribals in the development process.”

“They should be given small contracts also. We are talking with the Home Ministry about these measures and will also take it up with the Prime Minister,” Bhuria said.

Praising AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi for taking up the cause of tribals at Niyamgiri Hills against Vedanta’s mining project,the minister said that there was a need to “balance” industrialisation with tribals’ “independence and fundamental rights”.

“No attention has been paid to development in tribal areas. Rahul Gandhi saw their devi-devatas (deities) on the hills. He realised their language,custom,tradition and culture need to be protected,” said Bhuria adding his Ministry was not involved in any decision-making process regarding Vedanta’s mining project.

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