Anyone residing within the geographical region of Jharkhand for at least 30 years will be considered a local resident, the state government announced on Thursday, ending a 13-year policy stalemate that held up appointments of thousands of teachers and workers.
The cabinet also approved a proposal that said only local residents in 13 tribal-dominated districts will be eligible for Grade III and IV jobs for the next 10 years.
The local resident definition is an important landmark for the 15-year-old state as appointment for thousands of government jobs was stuck in the absence of a policy.
The state saw several clashes between tribals – who claimed to be the original inhabitants of the region – and people settled in Jharkhand from outside over jobs and the right to government benefits.
Jharkhand is one of India’s most resource-rich states but poverty is widespread in the state’s tribal belt with poor health and education services. The resident policy is expected to change this, as local residents will be prioritised for government jobs.
People who possess local resident certificates will get all type of entitlements on priority basis, said parliamentary affairs minister Saryu Roy.
But the policy is a disappointment for businessmen and people in private jobs who moved to Jharkhand since its creation in 2000. Experts said these sections contributed to the state’s development but were left out of the policy.
The cut-off period of 30 years also appeared unusually tough, especially when compared to sister states such as Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand that were also carved out at the same time as Jharkhand.
In Chhattisgarh, the cut off period to attain citizenship is 15 years. For businessmen, the criterion is only five years.
Uttarakhand also has 15 years of residence with permanent-owned property as the criterion for recognition as a local.
The first chief minister Babulal Marandi had issued a notification in 2002 defining residency but the high court quashed it, ordering the government to come up with a new local policy. Roy said the government took utmost care of all sections of the state. The policy will become official after the gazette notification to be made soon, he said.
As per the decision, local aspirants appearing in examinations conducted by Jharkhand public service commission and Jharkhand staff selection commission can answer in tribal and regional languages of their choice.
The government has listed Santhali, Mundari, Ho, Kharia, Kudhukh, Kurmali, Khorta, Nagpuri and Panchparganiya as the languages that will be offered. “This is more of an employment policy,” Jharkhand Congress president Sukhdev Bhagat said.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha general secretary Suprio Bhattacharya said the policy was full of contradictory interpretations.
Welcoming the policy, BJP state president Ravindra Rai said it was in the interest of the people of the state and pleaded the opposition to not play politics.