CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Tuesday alleged that the Centre and the State governments, with a few exceptions, deprived tribals of the funds allotted to them under the tribal Sub-Plan.
“The governments are not ready to recognise tribes and it is being used as an instrument to deny tribals their resource,” she said, participating in a protest organised by the tribals here. She said tribals in Erode were being denied community certificates after the district was carved out of Coimbatore.
She said minerals such as bauxite and iron ore were available aplenty in tribal areas, but the country's mineral wealth was being looted with the resources going to corporate houses, domestic and multi-national.
“In many parts of the world, tribals are stakeholders not only in the surface land, but also sub-surface minerals. But [in India] a Bill pending before a Parliamentary Standing Committee seeks to give funds to the District Mineral Foundation and not to the tribals who are direct stakeholders.”
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government late on Tuesday agreed to launch a special recruitment drive to appoint teachers for tribal residential schools in the wake of the protest organised by the Tamil Nadu Tribals Association in Chennai. Ms. Karat, who led the protest, said she and the tribals would not leave the city until the government agreed to their demands.
Even as she was sitting with the protesters, a team of CPI(M) leaders, including Legislature Party leader A. Soundararajan, whip K. Balakrishnan, another MLA Dillibabu, and association president P. Shanmugam held talks with the government.
The government side was represented by Speaker D. Jayakumar and Adi Dravidar Welfare Minister N. Subramanian. As the first round of talks failed to make any progress, Revenue Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan held another round of meeting and ended the stalemate.
“The government has agreed to fulfil many of our demands, including special recruitment to select teachers for tribal residential schools,” said Mr. Shanmugam, pointing out that 50 per cent posts were remaining vacant.
When the leaders raised the issue of 21,000 applications, pending with the government, for rights to pattas and use of forest produce vested on the tribals under the Forest Rights Act, the government said over 3,000 applications had been processed and finalised. But the CPI(M) leader wanted the government to consider all the applications. Mr. Shanmugam said the government would take a decision on providing compensation to the Vachathi victims in two days after getting a report from the Dharmapuri Collector. (On June 20, 1992, forest and police officials descended on Vachathi, a tribal hamlet, and committed atrocities on villagers in a raid said to be against sandalwood smuggling.) After the protest, the government agreed to issue community certificates to children if the parents produced genuine certificates.