Lok Sabha clears Bills to include PVTG groups in A.P., Odisha to Scheduled Tribes lists

Among the additions are notably 7 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) — four in Odisha and three in Andhra Pradesh

February 08, 2024 10:56 pm | Updated 10:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order Amendment Bill, 2024 and Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order Amendment Bill, 2024, for the addition of several new communities to the Scheduled Tribes list of Odisha and for the inclusion of synonyms and phonetic variations of existing tribes in the ST lists of both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Both Bills received support from MPs across party lines.

With Rajya Sabha having passed these Bills earlier on Tuesday, the changes can now be sealed by the office of the President, whenever it notifies the revised lists.

Among the additions are notably seven Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) (a subset of STs) — four in Odisha and three in Andhra Pradesh — whose independent names had been specifically added as synonyms or sub-tribes of communities already in the ST lists of these States.

Opposition demand

On Thursday in the Lok Sabha, Opposition members urged the government to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to evaluate all demands for ST status from across the country and bring the required changes in one go through a single legislation, adding that piecemeal measures would not help.

Some Opposition members, like Sougata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, also called for the existing “cumbersome” procedure for inclusion and exclusion to be streamlined.

NCP MP (Sharad Pawar faction) Supriya Sule and Abdul Khaleque of Congress also demanded that the Centre forms a JPC for meeting various communities that demand ST status and a comprehensive Bill can be brought before Parliament.

Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, an MP from Odisha, of the Congress welcomed the Bills as he initiated the debate on them but pointed out that around 150 to 200 tribes have been added to the list of Scheduled Tribes in the past five years.

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“In Odisha, anyone who comes demanding ST status, the State government sends it to the Central government. They have sent around 180 tribes to be considered as ST. This naturally raises a concern if the demands are genuine or not,” he said, and added a JPC should look into the issue.

He also took the chance to take on the government on the welfare of Scheduled Tribes and other marginalised groups, saying that they had been kept out of the banking systems, do not get loans, are unable to get jobs because of PSUs going away, and are still far behind in terms of other indicators like education.

Mr. Ulaka further raised the Hasdeo Arand issue and said, “In Chhattisgarh when they [BJP] came to power, they immediately started deforestation in the Hasdeo area. The last nail in the coffin will be the Uniform Civil Code. When it comes, our culture will be finished. Our culture is our only property”.

As Mr. Ulaka wrapped up his remarks, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan intervened, saying he wanted to take the time to appreciate the Bills being discussed for its historicity. “It is as important that this Bill is coming at a time when a tribal woman is the President of India. The government is committed to protecting tribals,” he said.

But just as Mr. Pradhan got back into his seat, A. Raja, who was in the Chair as the discussion began, noted that Mr. Ulaka had raised two important points — that of PSU closures and deforestation and relocation of tribals for industrialisation — that went unaddressed by the Minister and that these points must be on the record.

In Odisha, the PVTG communities added are Pauri Bhuyan and Paudi Bhuyan as synonyms of the Bhuyan tribe; the Chuktia Bhunjia as synonym of Bhunjia tribe; the Bondo as a sub-tribe of the Bondo Poraja tribe; and the Mankidia as a synonym for the Mankirdia tribe. In Andhra Pradesh, the PVTG communities included were Bondo Porja and Khond Porja as synonyms of Porja tribe and the Konda Savaras as a synonym for Savaras tribe.

In addition to this, the Bill to amend Odisha’s ST list also shifted two entries — Tamadia and Tamudia — from the Scheduled Castes list to the Scheduled Tribes list. The Bill also added synonyms, phonetic variations and sub-tribes of at least eight existing communities in the state’s ST list.

Further, Odisha’s ST list was expanded by adding two communities to it as new entries. These are the Muka Dora community (and synonyms) in undivided Koraput District which includes Koraput, Nowrangapur, Rayagada and Malkangiri districts; and the Konda Reddy (and synonyms) community.

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