“Large-scale displacement due to land acquisition”

Expressing concern over displacement and loss of occupation for tribal women due to land acquisition, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath has said such a move also exposed these women to “exploitation and trafficking.”

“The government will have to ensure security of livelihood of tribal population when their land is acquired,” she told the two-day conference on ‘Scheduled Tribe Women and Children: Issues and Challenges for Development' here on Monday.

“Large-scale displacement of tribals due to land acquisition for development is a challenge. Women become most vulnerable in such situations. Being mainly employed in agriculture or forest-based livelihood, displacement deprives tribal women of their occupation, often leading to migration which exposes them [to] exploitation or trafficking,” she said.

Ms. Tirath said the government was concerned about the issue of land acquisition and holding deliberations.

But regardless of the outcome of the discussions, it is necessary to ensure livelihood security of tribals when land is acquired for development purposes, she said, adding that the “gender dimension” will have to be kept in mind in this regard.

The comments assume significance in the backdrop of the ongoing debate on land acquisition, in the wake of the Bhatta-Parsaul incident of May 7, when farmers protesting over the rate of compensation for land taken for a road project in Greater Noida clashed with police.

Gender imbalance

Meanwhile, the Centre is worried over some tribal areas witnessing gender imbalance like in other areas of the country as traditionally they have maintained a better track record on that front.

Tribal societies generally show a positive attitude towards the fair sex, but the latest population data has shown a decline in sex ratio among the tribals in some areas, D.K. Sikri, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, said.

Asked about the decline, Ms. Tirath said: “We have sought data on which are the areas where this has been witnessed and what are the causes. We need to know reasons and then we can combat it.”

Unfavourably placed

She also said tribal women were unfavourably placed in terms of social indicators like health and education, and in many areas, benefits of government programmes were not reaching them.

Pointing out that of the jobs generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 17 per cent went to STs in 2010-11, she said there was need to use the scheme more effectively to curb distress migration by the indigenous groups.