Assurance to delegation of welfare organisation

Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kishore Chandra Deo on Tuesday assured the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) that he would oppose the entry of private companies into tribal areas for exploration of mineral resources.

He was responding to the tribal welfare organisation's concern that the proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act would pave the way for the entry of private entities in violation of the protection guaranteed to the Adivasis under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

An AARM delegation, which included Bajuban Riyan, Pulin Baskey and Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), presented to the Minister a memorandum on the concerns of the Scheduled Tribes, coinciding with the All India Adivasi Demands Day.

Mr. Deo said a national consultation on problems in implementation of the Forests Rights Act (FRA) would be held soon.

The delegation brought to his notice violations of the Act and Rules in different States, including his home State of Andhra Pradesh, and how the Forest departments in different States were usurping powers to deprive the Adivasis of their rights to forest land.

‘Unacceptable

The Minister agreed with the delegation that the current status of implementation of the Act — over 50 per cent of the claims had been rejected — was unacceptable. The FRA Rules were being amended to help the Adivasis access their rights, he said.

The delegation pointed out the unjust design of the Below the Poverty Line census which would deprive most Adivasis of BPL status. For, the census gave the STs only one deprivation point, ignoring the special occupations of the Adivasis. Mr. Deo assured the delegation that he would take up the matter with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Spelling mistakes play havoc

The AARM also complained about the “gross injustice” to many STs due to “spelling mistakes” in the ST list which deprived genuine claimants of ST status in many States of their rights as tribals.

It requested the Minister to set up a time-bound commission to hear the complaints.