Amending Forest Laws for Empowering Tribals
The Union Government took note of the fact that the forest dwellers had been precluded from asserting their genuine claims to forest resources which traditionally belonged to them. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded. The Forest rights Act has been in operation for more than four years and despite substantial progress made in the last four years certain lacuna and bottlenecks were observed which were impeding the intended flow of benefits to the forest dwelling communities. Appropriate changes in the Rules have been brought about on 06.09.2012. After the amendments in the Rules, the Ministry organized five regional consultations on Forest Rights Act followed by a National meeting at New Delhi. In the regional consultations and the National meetings, the States Governments were directed to make special efforts to create awareness about community rights so that more claims are filed and recognized. The amendment in the Rules has now empowered the Gram Sabha to issue transit permit for minor forest produce either through a Committee constituted under Rule 4(1)(e) or any other person authorized by it. The amended Rule also makes it amply clear that the ownership of minor forest produce lies with the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers.
Guidelines for states on Forest Rights Act
A guidelines have been issued on 12.07.2012 to ease out the problems and hindrances encountered in the implementation of the Act, and to provide unencumbered access to rights already conferred by the Act. The guidelines require the State Governments to ensure recognition of the forest rights relating to minor forest produce and to bring the State policies in alignment with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional forest Dwellers(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, do away the monopoly of the Forest Corporations in the trade of minor forest produce in the States, play the facilitating role in not only transferring unhindered absolute rights over minor forest produce to forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers but also in getting them remunerative prices for the minor forest produce collected and processed by them.
Implementation of Forest Rights Act
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is obtaining information from the State/ UT Governments regarding the status of implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, every month, and compiling a monthly progress report on the status of implementation of the Act in the country. As per the information received from the State/ UT Governments, a total number of 32,37,579 claims (31,73,520 individual and 64,059 community) had been filed under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 till 30th November, 2012, out of which 27,91,168 claims (86.21% of the total claims filed) had been disposed off. Out of the total 27, 91,168 claims disposed off, 12,79,009 claims were approved and same number of titles were distributed. As per the available data, against the total number of 64,059 claims filed for community rights, 8,498 titles for community rights (13.26%) were distributed.
Development of Forest Villages
This Ministry is implementing a programme for development of Forest Villages since 2005-06 for integrated development of forest villages with a view to raise the Human Development Index (HDI) of the inhabitants of the Forest Villages and for providing basic facilities and services in 2,474 forest villages/ habitations spread over 12 States. Under the programme, infrastructure work relating to basic services and facilities viz. approach roads, healthcare, primary education, minor irrigation, rainwater harvesting, drinking water, sanitation, community halls, etc. are taken up for implementation. So far, this Ministry has released Rs.65379.04 lakh for the development of these forest villages.
Signing of Agreement between NSTFDC and SBI Refinance
The National Scheduled Tribe Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) and State Bank of India (SBI) signed a Refinance Agreement in New Delhi. By signing the agreement, State Bank of India, the largest Public Sector Bank in the country, entered into an arrangement with NSTFDC for channelizing concessional loans to the Scheduled Tribes. This also reflects positively on the SBI that they not only cater to the large business houses and high net worth individuals and industrialists but are also committed to economic upliftment of the weaker sections of the society.
Under the arrangements, NSTFD would provide refinance to SBI for loans extended to Self Help Group comprising all ST members. ST beneficiaries would pay concessional interest rate of 6% p.a. only. This arrangement would open doors of more than 14000 branches of SBI to the needy Scheduled Tribes Community for seeking loans upto RS. 5 lakh at the concessional rate.
National Tribal Awards
On ther Ocassion of “Prakriti”, a National Festival of Tribal dance and music, the National Tribal Awards for outstanding tribal achievers in sports, education, and culture and to outstanding contributors towards tribal welfare was presented. Smt. BinnyYanaga (Maya) was given the award for Exemplary Community Service rendered to the Scheduled Tribes, carrying a cash prize of Rs.5.00 lakhs, a citation and a trophy. Smt. M.C. Mary Kom awarded the Best Tribal Achiever Award for outstanding achievement in the field of sports, carrying a cash prize of Rs. 2.00 lakhs, a citation and a trophy and Shri Guru Rewben Mashangva was also awarded the Best Tribal Achiever Award for outstanding contribution in the field of tribal art and culture.
Scheme for Pre-matric Scholarship
The Ministry has launched a Centrally-sponsored Scheme for Pre-matric Scholarship for needy ST students studying in Classes IX and X w.e.f. 1.7.2012 which is being implemented through State Governments and UT Administrations.
Development of Primitive Tribes
There are 75 tribal groups identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTGs), earlier known as Primitive Tribal Groups. List of the 75 PTGs identified in 17 States and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Government introduced a Central Sector Scheme known as Development of PTGs and from the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) Plan has been implemented under the scheme. The scheme provides for planning for their socio-economic development in a holistic manner by adopting habitat development approach and intervening in all spheres of their social and economic life so that the quality of life of PTGs is improved and visible impact is made. Allocation during the Twelfth Five Year Plan under this Scheme has not been finalised. However, Rs.244.00 crore has been allocated during 2012-13.
Consultation with North Eastern States on Tribal Development
A consultation with North Eastern States was held here in New Delhi on the issues of tribal development. During the meeting the issues like, strengthening of cooperation between Ministry of Tribal Affairs and North Eastern States, perspective plans of North Eastern States for the 12th Plan regarding development of STs including strategies for bridging development deficits, sharing specific initiatives/experience of North Eastern States for protection and empowerment of STs were discussed. The consultation was attended The Minister of Tribal Affairs, Minister of State (IC) of DONER, Minister of State for Tribal Affairs and Senior official of the Ministry and representatives of States including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim.
Silver Jubilee Celebration of TRIFED
The Silver Jubilee celebration of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) was celebrated. The Silver Jubilee function of TRIFED’ provided an opportunity to take stock of the situation, ponder over the future challenges and redefine the role for the organization in the rapidly changing environment. The TRIFED was started in August1987 with the main objective of providing marketing support for the tribal products so that remunerative prices can be ensured to the tribals for the products collected/cultivated by them. TRIFED’s effort to build “TRIBES INDIA” as a brand needs special mention as it provided tribal handicrafts and textile products a distinct identity in the market. The TRIFED has been consistently growing in terms of sales and from a single store in 1999 at Delhi now TRIBES India network has covered 16 States with 26 stores and still expanding. The Minister expressed his support to TRIFED and expressed the hope that TRIFED would emerge as a big and successful organization.