A month after the Himachal Pradesh high court's landmark judgment allowing tribal women in Kinnaur district to inherit ancestral property, the Himachal government announced on Wednesday 'nautor' (waste) land would be provided to younger sons in tribal families, who are traditionally deprived of the right to inherit property, in Lahaul-Spiti district within six months.
"There is a need to change traditional customs and practices in the state's tribal regions," Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh said while presiding over a meeting of the tribal advisory council here. "I don't want a single person in tribal Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur and remote regions of Chamba district to remain without land. Many cases regarding providing land to the landless in the Spiti area have been coming to my office. A radical policy should be formulated to provide land to them and others in tribal areas like Hangrang in Kinnaur," he added.
In Lahaul-Spiti district there is a tradition that younger male children in a family are deprived of the right to ancestral property that is usually inherited by the eldest son. The tradition is known as 'barra ghar' (big family) and 'chhota ghar' (small family). Traditionally property was inherited by the elder son while it was the usual practice for younger male siblings in a family to join monasteries scattered across the district.
Virbhadra also took exception to the inordinate delay in construction of a 66 kV electricity transmission line from Kaza to Losar. The government decided to set up a committee headed by the chief secretary to ascertain the reasons for the delay. Work on the 150-km-long power line began 17 years ago but the state electricity board has yet to complete the project.
Aimed at providing interrupted power supply in the tribal areas, particularly in the winter, the state government conceived the project in 1997. One of the objects was to provide power to remote regions in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts. The electricity board has already spent `50 crore on installing transmission towers, which are not of good quality with many having collapsed last winter.
Virbhadra said a survey on the proposed tunnel from Chamba to Pangi should be undertaken. "The tunnel will reduce the distance to Killar. A survey on the proposed Holi-Utrala tunnel is being conducted by SJVNL," he added.
For the first time four women's representatives were inducted tribal advisory council. "The government is committed to provide better education and healthcare services to residents of the tribal areas and, in this regard, 47 doctors including seven specialists have been appointed in the region," he said, instructing the health department to fill vacant positions for doctors and paramedical staff in tribal areas within two months.