‘Tribal people losing their lands in the process of industrialisation’

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) Chairman Rameshwar Oraon on Thursday expressed concern over tribal people losing their land resources in the process of mineral development and industrialisation in the State.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Oraon said, “there are ample examples of huge tracts of land being damaged in mineral development in Keonjhar district. Similarly, persons from the tribal community in Mayurbhanj district have also complained that their lands have been destroyed due to mineral extractions.”

“I also interacted with the tribal people displaced by industrial projects in Kalinganagar area. It is sad to note that the State government has acquired land of tribal people only for laying a main road in the industrial estate while it did not touch land of non-tribal people adjacent to the road,” he pointed out.

The NCST chairperson said, “tribal people identify with their land. We are not against mineral development. But land losers should be properly compensated and rehabilitated. Land for land policy should be strictly adhered to.”

The commission held a public hearing of tribal people of Badampahar area of Mayurbjanj district here on Wednesday. It is alleged that land of 60,000 persons, mostly tribal people, have been damaged due to mining activities.

The NCST Chairperson said he would take up the issue of tribal people losing land at the meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The commission suggested the State government to adopt Andhra Pradesh model of utilisation of funds under tribal sub-plan (TSP).

“Prior to 2011-12, TSP funds were utilised in non-tribal areas and the projects were not concerned to tribal people. But from last year, State Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste department has decided to monitor utilisation of the TSP fund. In Andhra Pradesh, a proposed guideline prescribes penalty for violation of TSP fund utilisation.”

Mr. Oraon also expressed his displeasure over filling of posts reserved for ST candidates.

“The State’s ST population is around 22.5 per cent and tribal candidates should get jobs proportionately. But in reality, only 12 per cent of posts have been filled with tribal candidates. The State government has not implemented job reservation policy faithfully,” he said.

Mass migration

The commission also attributed mass migration of tribal population to other States like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu due to poor implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Odisha.

“Number of tribal beneficiaries of MGNREGA in the State has reduced by half in 2011-12 in comparison to that of 2010-11. As a result, tribal people from Koraput and Bolangir are migrating to other States,” Mr. Oraon said.

  • NCST Chairman interacts with the displaced tribal people

  • State urged to adopt AP model in fund utilisation