Herald: Ohh..no ..it’s not a happy situation

Ohh..no ..it’s not a happy situation

13 Jan 2019 05:59am IST
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13 Jan 2019 05:59am IST
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The fate of scheduled tribes living in Goa is not to be proud of. An absence of data on the ground coupled with a state government that does not have a policy does not make for a very pleasant situation. AVINASH TAVARES presents details of a rather sad state of affairs

he population of Scheduled Tribes in Goa is 1.49 lakh (2011 Census) which is 10% of Goa’s population and 0.1% of India’s total Tribal population. While many of the tribal families in Goa have access to health care and education, certain villages, particularly in the eastern Talukas, are still lacking basic amenities and infrastructure. 

The Central Government provides several schemes for the tribal population as mandated by Article 275 of the Indian Constitution. Two of the most important schemes are Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme (SCA to TSS) and Grants-in-aid under Proviso to Article 275(1), which are given to the States in the form of 100% annual grants. Herald analysed the official data in the public domain to assess the performance of the State in the area of Tribal Welfare.

Tribal Welfare has no Data

According to a reply in a Legislative Assembly Question (LAQ) Govind Gaude, Ministry of Tribal Welfare stated that there is no data on whether backward areas of Quepem, Sanguem, Sanvordem and Canacona constituencies with large population of Tribal are lacking many basic amenities, infrastructure, etc.  Although during that time, the statement might have been overlooked since most of the Government departments have a poor record of data collection and analysis, this lethargy is the probably the reason why Goa’s tribal communities have lost out on hundreds of lakhs of much needed funds.

The Central Ministry of Tribal Affairs administers various Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes besides two Special Area Programmes mentioned earlier. These schemes include various sectors viz. (i) Education, (ii) Health, (iii) Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry (AH), Fisheries, Dairy & others in Primary Sector, (iv) Other income generating schemes to augment tribal household economy and (v) Administrative structure (including manpower) / institutional framework & research studies.

Across the country, ma ajor part of infrastructure development and provision of basic amenities in tribal areas/regions in the country is carried out through various schemes/programmes of concerned Central Ministries and the State Governments concerned, while the Ministry of Tribal Affairs provides additive to these initiatives by way of plugging critical gaps.

The critical aspect of these schemes is that all these schemes are demand driven. The proposals received from the State Government under these schemes are appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee (PAC) in the Ministry for funding depending upon the availability of funds under the relevant scheme. Unfortunately, since there is no data, the State government obviously is not in a position to place any proposal to avail these schemes.

The tables clearly show that the Goa government has recived nothing to a fraction of the total funds released to States under the schemes.

No funds received for Goa for Roads, Skill Development and Tribal Reseach institute

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is a one-time special intervention of Government of India to provide rural connectivity, by way of a single all-weather road, to the eligible unconnected habitations in the core network with a population of 500 persons and above (Census 2001) in plain areas and 250 and above in Special Category States.

 Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), 17502.349 kms of road was constructed in forest land lying in tribal areas across India. But Goa is absent from the state-wise details presented in the recent Lok Sabha session. Why doesn’t Goa figure in the list? That’s because since 2017 no roads were constructed under PMGSY in the State  even though, according to the Minister for Rural Development Agency, the Detailed Project Report for 8  to 11 roads have been prepared and under process for approval by State Technical Agency to avail the benefit of the scheme for an estimated sum of Rs 827.03 Crores

More than 60000 tribal youth across India are benefiting from the funds released for Skill Development and Vocation Training under the under Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme. However, here again ,Goa has lost out since no funds have been released to Goa  under this scheme.

Besides this fund, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare) allocates funds for Tribal Sub-Plan under Sub-Mission on Agricultural Extension (SAME), Under this scheme, the number of beneficiaries have dropped from 628 to 0 in the last three years.

No Central Funds released under the Scheme of Grant- in-Aid to Voluntary organisations working for the Welfare of STs in Goa. Goa also lost out on funds for Tribal Research Institutes.A total of  Rs 79 Crores was released to 24 states for these institutes in 2017-18 alone. The TRIs have been set up in 24 States to function as a body of knowledge & research and as a think tank for tribal development and preservation of art and culture of tribal people.

  Tribals in Goa have access to Health Care 

The one area where Goa excels in the area of tribal welfare is health. The data shows that the number of sub-health centers and public health centers in the tribal areas in the State far exceed the required number. The challenge before

Is Goa Government rich and 

efficient to implement tribal schemes on its own? 

 Why is the Goa Government not enthusiastic about taking funds from the Central Government? Is it due to fear of post performance audit by central agencies or is it because the Goa Government has sufficient money to fund all the schemes on its own?

Year after year, the Goa government presents ambitious targets of expenditure in Tribal welfare but they havent been able to meet the targeted expenditure since the last 7 years. During these years, the government has spent less than half of the funds estimated in the annual budget. The most severe drop was in 2012-13 where the government spent a mere Rs 21 Cr of the estimated budget of Rs 170 Cr, probably due to the mining ban.

Goan Tribals in danger of losing their identity?

The purpose of Tribal welfare is to uplift the tribal section of society while ensuring their identity and culture thrives for generations to come. Goa’s tribes are unique and therefore people need to be encouraged to protect their heritage.

 If the Government does not invest in these communities, the present and future generations will be forced to sell their land and move out of their villages for a better quality of life. Conversely, if the Goa Government plans and utilises the funds given to them by the central government, the tribal Goans will have a shot at a better quality of life in their own villages.

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