Primitive tribal groups still ignored

NEW DELHI DEC. 25. The Standing Committee on Labour and Welfare has expressed displeasure over the efforts made by the Government for the uplift of the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) and said that the progress made in relation to development of these groups "is negligible''.

In its 28th report submitted to Parliament recently, the committee noted with concern that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had till date got no authentic data of the PTG population in the country and desired a tribe-wise benchmark survey of PTGs within a timeframe so that plans and programmes could be formulated for their overall development during the Tenth Plan.

Since the Tribal Affairs Ministry has requested the State and the Union Territory Governments to conduct a baseline survey, the committee said that no timeframe had been stipulated for the purpose and insisted that information, including their social status be gathered in a time-bound manner.

The committee was surprised that despite the Government's continued efforts for the development of the PTGs from the start of the Fifth Plan, no State had proposed to delete any group from the list of PTGs. Further, no basic statistics were available in the Ministry to ascertain the number of PTGs brought on a par with other tribal communities during the Eighth and Ninth Plans.

It has also conveyed its dismay to the Government that no specific action plan has been formulated by the Ministry for rehabilitation of PTGs in their own habitation.

"This reflects the lackadaisical attitude of the Ministry and lack of commitment to fulfil its objective of bringing the PTGs into the mainstream of the tribal society.

Calling upon the Ministry to make concerted efforts to bring maximum number of PTGs on a par with other tribal communities during the Tenth Plan, it has recommended formulation of a specific action plan with the help of tribal research institutes and other expert bodies and by pooling the resources from Special Tribal Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan, grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution and funds from Centrally-sponsored, Central sector and State Plan schemes.

Pointing out that the tribals are still being deprived of their land resources despite enactment of laws to check their alienation, the panel suggested provision of enough safeguards to prevent this and effectively deal with the abominable practice of bonded labour.

While the Ministry should take enough interest in protection of the rights of the original inhabitants of forests in litigation involving them, it said that the Tribal Affairs Ministry, as the nodal Ministry, should impress upon the Rural Development Ministry to move a comprehensive Bill in Parliament for rehabilitation of tribals affected by development projects without any further delay.