Report by OD bureau, New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today met the Union Minister for Panchayati Raj and Tribal Affairs, V. Kishore Chandra S. Deo in New Delhi.
Chief Minister Patnaik apprised the Union Minister Deo that a host of measures have been taken by the State during recent years for empowering the tribal communities which inter alia include securing tenurial rights for them and convergence of various on-going development programmes in the tribal areas for their economic and social development. Odisha thus occupies the first position in the country in the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 under which about 3.07 lakh individual forest right titles involving about 4.94 lakh acres of land have already been recognized in the State, he stated.
Chief Minister stated that the State has recently implemented a pilot project in 1042 villages under the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme with the aim to formalize the rights of the tribals over homestead and agricultural land and this has paid rich dividends in the allocation of land to the landless tribals. He added that the State has accordingly formulated an innovative and comprehensive strategy, to be implemented over a period of 5 years from 2012-13 to 2016-17, to ensure that there is no homesteadless and landless ST household in the Tribal Sub-Plan areas of the State covering 118 Blocks, by 2016-17. He requested the Union Minister to sanction the innovative project envisaging a cost of Rs.31.37 crore as Innovative Project component under Article 275(1).
Chief Minister further brought to the notice of the Union Minister that about 159 proposals for inclusion as new categories/ synonyms of various communities in the ST list of Odisha are pending in the Ministry for a long time. He requested that the proposals may be approved early as the State is faced with repeated legitimate demands by the communities for their early inclusion. Chief Minister apprised the Union Minister that the State has already completed construction of 40 hostels for Scheduled Tribe girls and boys out of 65 sanctioned during 2010-11 and the balance are also nearing completion. He urged the Union Minister to convey his ‘in-principle’ approval for sanction of at least 100 numbers of 100 seated hostels for Scheduled Tribes, at an estimated cost of Rs.125 lakh per hostel. In addition, the Union Minister was requested to sanction the balance 20 Ashram Schools during the current year 2012-13 as per the proposal submitted for sanction of 50 Ashram Schools in 2011-12.
Chief Minister stated that the livelihood improvement of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) is a priority of the State. He informed that the State has accordingly formulated a detailed proposal and submitted to the Union Ministry in February, 2012 for the livelihood improvement of PVTGs, which involves external funding. He requested the Union Minister to forward the said proposal envisaging a project cost of Rs.609.21 crore including proposed assistance from external agency IFAD of Rs.397.84 crore to the Department of Economic Affairs, at the earliest.
Union Minister assured that the proposal of Government of Odisha envisaging an innovative and comprehensive strategy for ensuring the rights of tribals at a cost of Rs.31.37 crore, spread over a period of 5 years from 2012-13 to 2016-17, will be considered favourably under the Innovative Project component of Article 275(1). The Union Minister appreciated the concerns of Odisha on 159 proposals, pending for a long time for inclusion as new categories/ synonyms of various communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes of Odisha. He clarified that while the Union Ministry does recognize that there is a need to update the list of Scheduled Tribes in Odisha, it has to be guided, however, by the advice of the Registrar General of India. He requested the Chief Minister that the State should re-submit the proposals by clearly specifying additional ethnographic evidence available in support of the proposals. Upon receipt of the same, the Union Ministry will pursue the matter with the Registrar General of India, he promised.
Union Minister agreed ‘in principle’ for sanctioning additional hostels for tribal students under the scheme of ‘Hostels for Scheduled Tribe Girls and Boys’. He mentioned that the State should send proposals spread over a period of time. The Union Minister also assured to sanction the balance 20 new Ashram Schools during 2012-13 upon receipt of utilization certificates of the grants sanctioned earlier.
He further suggested that his Ministry, in consultation with the State Government, will make some amendments in the project proposal of the State for livelihood improvement of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups and forward the same after making necessary amendments to the Department of Economic Affairs for posing to International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) or any other external agency, early.