Tribal policy will be placed before cabinet soon

New Delhi, June 1 (Calcutta Tube) The much-delayed national tribal policy, which aims to give tribals greater control over forest resources, will be placed before the cabinet for approval soon, Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria said Tuesday.

‘It will be placed before the cabinet soon,’ Bhuria said at a function of the tribal affairs ministry. ‘The policy has been finalised, it will give tribals greater control over their land,’ he said.

It has been in the pipeline for more than six years. The draft of the proposed National Tribal Policy was prepared in 2004 during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime. After being in cold storage for nearly four years, it was given the green signal by a Group of Ministers in 2008. It has been with the ministry ever since.

Official sources confirm that the policy will be placed before the cabinet this month.

The policy, which has been reportedly delayed due to opposition from the industrial lobby, will provide for giving tribals the right to and ownership of forest produce. It will also restrict non-tribals from buying land in tribal area.

Senior officials from the ministry said the policy provides tribals the right to decide the manner of development in forest areas.

‘Tribals will have the right to decide if a road has to be built, they will have the right over how to use forest produce, in addition they will also have intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge. On the whole, they will be key decision makers after the policy comes into force,’ an official from the ministry said.

Stating that the government is already working towards ensuring land rights to tribals, Bhuria said the process is in progress under the forest rights act.

‘We have received over 28 lakh applications from the tribals for land rights. Over 10 lakh cases have been cleared so far,’ he said.

‘Land rights will be given to all forest dwellers who have been living there since before 2005,’ the minister added.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed in 2006. It ensures land rights to forest dwellers.

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