Tribals in non-ST villages feel left out

Syllabus: Salient features of Indian Society

Context

Rights activists decry delay in bringing them under Fifth Schedule protection

What is the Problem

  • Tribals who have been cultivating small portions of land for a sustainable living in some of the non-Scheduled Tribe villages and hamlets
  • predominantly inhabited by PVTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) such as the Khonds and the Konda Doras in Anakapalli district of Andhra Pradesh, are now a threatened lot.
  • Any day a private person accompanied by a few government officials can move into their villages with earth movers and raze their settlement, which have been their homes since the last four to five decades.

Constitutional Provisions

  • On January 26, 1950, when the Constitution came into force, the
  • Fifth Schedule gave special protection to villages that were predominantly inhabited by tribals across various States.
  • Sixth Schedule of the Constitution catered to the entire tribal belt of the Northeast.
  • The authorities had demarcated the Fifth Schedule areas, including in Andhra Pradesh, based on documents provided by British rulers.
  • The issue of tribals in non-ST villages and atrocities committed against them by non-tribals first came to the fore in Andhra Pradesh during the Srikakulam Naxal uprising in the 1970s.

What is the advantage

  • Notifying a tribal village under the Fifth Schedule gives it protection.
  • Primarily, being a tribal village, not an inch of land can be taken from them by any non-tribal or a private corporation.
  • Even the natural resources cannot be exploited, as they are protected by a number of laws and Acts such as the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the 1/70 of AP Government Act and the Samata judgment.
  • Once these villages are notified under the Fifth Schedule, the villages will be entitled to funds from the Tribal Sub-Plan, which can be utilised for development and they will come under the purview of the ITDAs (Integrated Tribal Development Authority).
  • Their cases can be settled at the sub-collector or Tehsildar level and they need not run from pillar to post at the civil courts.

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