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First national policy for STs

india Updated: May 31, 2007 03:00 IST
First national policy for STs

The government is likely to take up on Thursday finalisation of the country’s first national policy that seeks to lay down the framework to improve the lives of scheduled tribes (ST).

The move comes in the backdrop of the agitation by Gujjars in Rajasthan to be included in the state’s ST category to improve their prospects in job reservations.

The policy will seek to address the lower Human Development Index, poor infrastructure, diminishing control over natural resources, persistent threats of eviction from their natural habitat, inequality in distribution of wealth and inadequate implementation of Constitutional provisions.

According to officials, the policy also envisages drawing up a quantifiable tribal development index for the tribal districts as well as the entire State on the basis of indicators like land restored to STs, policy changes by State Governments to empower Gram Sabhas in scheduled areas, control and access of STs over forest and natural resources and improvement in infant mortality rate.

A draft copy of the policy released earlier had also hinted against the practice of arming tribals to fight extremists as has been happening in Chhattisgarh where tribals are encouraged and armed to resist the naxalites.

Wildlife crime bureau

Meanwhile, a week before India will face concern of international conservationists on country’s falling tiger population, the cabinet is expected to approve setting up of Wildlife Crime Bureau to checking poaching in the country.

Tiger population in Central India is estimated to have fallen by about 59 per cent since 2002, as per the data released by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) estimation. India’s falling tiger population and proposal of China to lift ban on trade of tiger body parts is expected to be discussed at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to be held in Hague in the first week of June.

The Environment and Forest Ministry officials expect that official nod for setting up the Wildlife Crime Bureau will indicate at the meeting that India was serious about poaching. India had earlier constituted Wildlife Tiger Conservation Authority for proper conservation of tigers.

The officials, however, admitted that there was a delay in setting up the bureau as Finance Ministry had objected on its strength. The officials expected that the issue would be sorted out in Thursday’s Cabinet meeting. The ministry had asked for 105 posts for the bureau to be headed by the Additional Director-General of Forests.

atikku@hindustantimes.com