SHILLONG, Oct 12 - In a development that may have direct impact on six tribes of Assam, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has proposed that demands for inclusion in Scheduled Tribe category by tribes should be decided within a timeframe of six months.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said here today that the proposals to decide on ST demand in a time-bound manner are being sent to the Union Cabinet for approval.
�The guidelines to change the current norms for inclusion in the ST category of tribes are being changed. One of the major changes is that such demands should be decided within six months,� the Union Minister told a select group of journalists.
Currently, there are about five criteria that are looked into before granting ST status to a particular tribe and one of them being recommendation of the State Government.
�Several State Governments have not been able to decide whether the demand to grant ST status be granted or not. The demand for inculcation in ST category is not time-bound, which we are proposing for a change,� the Union Minister said.
In Assam, at least six tribes � Koch-Rajbongshis, Tea tribes, Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutiyas � are demanding for inclusion in the ST category. However, no decision has been taken in these cases.
�The process of revision earlier used to take time. Now, when these new guidelines are framed and approved demands would be decided within six months irrespective of the State Government�s recommendation,� Oram added.
He further informed that there are 1,000 tribes in the country who are demanding their inclusion in the ST category and most of these are pending for a long time.
Meanwhile, when asked, the Union Minister said that the Meghalaya Government should take a decision whether non-tribals should be allowed to vote in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC).
The Council elections were held today amidst protest against non-tribals casting their votes. �There should not be non-tribals voting in the Council elections, but it is for the State Government to take a decision on the matter,� he added. Oram said he has reviewed some of the projects being implemented in the State, especially in the Sohra region. �Some of the organisations are doing good work for the tribal people,� Oram stated.