Staff Reporter

With tahsildars not empowered to issue community certificates

  • Many tribals being harassed in name of document verification
  • Reservation policy for SC/STs in private sector sought

    CHENNAI: Scheduled tribes in Tamil Nadu are facing "maximum trouble" with the State Government transferring the power for issuing community certificates from tahsildars to revenue divisional officers, Buduru Srinivasalu, Member, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, has said.

    Apart from the delay and even denial of certificates in some cases, there were instances of those in possession of certificates being harassed in the name of document verification, he told a seminar here on Monday. The meeting was organised by the Scheduled Tribe Employees Welfare Association.

    Describing it as a "failure of the executive," Mr. Srinivasalu said he had taken the matter to the President.

    During his visits to several parts of the State, since the formation of the Commission in early 2004, he had received 2,700 petitions. All of them were forwarded to the State Government, but he was yet to get a reply.

    The full Commission proposed to visit Tamil Nadu next month, Mr. Srinivasalu said. He was trying to sort out the issues by discussing them with the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary.

    While there were no tribals in Pondicherry as per official statistics, during a visit to the Union Territory he met several thousand people belonging to tribal communities. Since a key reason for the Governments' apathy was the lack of consolidated strength of the STs, he underlined the need for unity among the members and the significance of education.

    Resolutions passed

    The seminar, coinciding with the annual general body meeting of the Association, passed resolutions hailing the initiatives of the DMK Government, urging it to re-empower tahsildars to issue ST certificates, direct revenue authorities against insisting on documentary evidence prior to 1950 while issuing the certificates, and stop repeated verification of the community status.

    It appealed to the Chief Minister to issue orders to revenue authorities against cancelling bonafide ST certificates issued 20 years earlier by tahsildars. The seminar also sought a reservation policy for Scheduled Castes/STs in the private sector.

    Underscoring the significance of all ST associations uniting, former member of the State Human Rights Commission R. Rathnasami said once a community certificate was issued there was little need for its verification. Member of Legislative Assembly S.R. Raja urged the STs to conduct a census of their own. State president of the association D. Baabu Santhanam, general secretary K. Kesavan and legal adviser M. Suresh Kumar spoke.