Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Oct 28:
The Centre today launched Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) for the welfare of the tribals in 10 states including Odisha.
Speaking at a meeting of Tribal Welfare ministers of states and Union Territories here, Union Tribal Welfare minister Jual Oram said the scheme had been launched on a pilot basis in one block each in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat where the literacy rate is very low.
In the initial stage, blocks having at least 33% of tribal population will be targeted, he said. The Centre will provide Rs 10 crore for each block for the development of various facilities for the tribals under the scheme, he added,
“This scheme mainly focuses on bridging infrastructure in human development indices between the Schedule Tribes and other social groups,” the minister said.
Stating that his ministry had taken up initiatives for strengthening of Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs), Integrated Development Project (IDP) and creation of new ones wherever necessary for delivery of goods and services to tribal people, the Union minister advised the state governments to judiciously utilise the funds to put in place the required institutional mechanism and make it more vigorous for effective and efficient functioning of these aforesaid institutions.
Referring to the situation where prices of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) are usually determined by the traders instead of the self sustained process of demand and supply, Oram said his ministry has implemented a scheme to ensure that such forest dwellers are not deprived of their dues.
Under the scheme, maximum selling price or MFP is being implemented in the Schedule-V states initially. Besides, a web portal had also been developed to indicate current prices of MFPs on real time basis across different mandis of the states. A total of 12 MFP products—tendu (kendu) leaf, bamboo, mahua seeds, sal leaf, sal seed, lac, chironjee, wild honey, myrobalan (triphala), tamarind, gums (gum karaya) and karanji— have been included in the programme.
Describing the Forests Rights Act as a ‘historic’ legislation to recognize the pre-existing rights of the tribals and other traditional forest dwellers, the Union minister informed that out of 37.69 lakh claims filed by the intended beneficiaries, about 14.57 lakh individual forest rights titles and more than 22,200 community forest rights titles had been distributed by June this year.
He also said the ministry has given in-principle approval for recognizing the Vishva Bharati, Shantiniketan as the other centres of excellence in the field of tribal language and literature.
“Another proposal for establishment of a National Research Centre at the Tribal Research Institute, Bhubansewar for promotion of research activities on subjects and issues for socio-economic development and culture of states has also been approved by the ministry,” he added.
Earlier, addressing the meeting, Union minister of state for Tribal Affairs, Mansukhbai Dhanjibhai Vasava said one of the priorities of his ministry was on skill development and employment generation initiatives for sustainable livelihood for the tribal people.
In order to facilitate infrastructure for provision of quality education to the tribals, the ministry has sanctioned about 184 Ekalavya Modal Residential schools which would be equipped with requisite infrastructure and conducive environment for ensuring delivery of quality education among the tribals, he said.