The tribal population in India lags behind other social groups on various social parameters, such as child mortality, infant mortality, number of anaemic women, says the latest annual report of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Tribal population, with a vast majority engaged in agricultural labour, has a higher incidence of anaemia in women when compared to other social groups.
The community also registered the highest child mortality and infant mortality rates, when compared to other social groups, the data indicates.
While educational achievements on the whole has improved, statistics cited elsewhere in the Report shows that the gross enrolment ratio among tribal students in the primary school level has declined from 113.2 in 2013-14 to 109.4 in 2015-16. Besides, the dropout rate among tribal students has been at an alarming level.
While the overall poverty rates among the tribal population have fallen compared to previous years, they remain relatively poorer when weighed against other social groups.
Health infrastructure has also been found wanting in tribal areas. At an all-India level, there is a shortfall of 6,796 Sub Centres, 1267 Primary Health Centres and 309 Community Health Centres in tribal areas as on March 31, 2015, the Report points out.
Gaps in rehabilitation
Further, it exposes the gap in rehabilitation of tribal community members displaced by various development projects. Out of an estimated 85 lakh persons displaced due to development projects and natural calamities, only 21 lakh were shown to have been rehabilitated so far, the Report states.
Responding to this figure, Sudhir Pattanaik, Odisha-based social activist and Editor Samadrusti told The Hindu that even the 21 lakh resettlement figure in the Report is questionable as there is no way to verify this data. Based on what he had witnessed in the case of displacement caused by mining plants and captive power projects set up in the past several years in Angul, Koraput, Raigadh and Kalahandi districts in the State, Mr. Pattanaik said that it was tribal land acquisition and not tribal development that was the focus of the government.
“Rehabilitation only happens on paper, and any compensation for displaced adivasi folks is siphoned off by others in their name,” he said.
In 2014, the Central government initiated the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana for the holistic development and welfare of tribal population on a pilot basis. However, the Annual Report points out that the token budgetary provisions being made under the scheme to the tune of Rs.100.00 crore and Rs.200.00 crore for 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively, is minuscule and barely sufficient to meet the purpose of the Scheme given that it intends to cover 27 States across the country.
The Ministry has emphasised that more funds be provided for the Scheme from the year 2016-17 onwards.