NEW DELHI, Sept 26 � After years of dilly-dallying, the Centre today clarified that the proposal for according Schedule Tribe (ST) status to six communities, including a few tea tribes in Assam, is under advanced stage of consideration.
Replying to questions, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Joel Oram held that differences of opinion between Central agencies and the Assam government led to the delay in the matter that has been hanging fire for years.
Explaining the reasons for the delay, the Minister said that there are guidelines for listing the communities in the ST list. When a proposal is moved by the Centre, the State government�s consent is essential. Sometimes the consent does not come. The opinion of Register General of India and ethnology report are also required. �Sometime one organisation opposes and at other times, the State government objects,� he said. �Anyway, the matter is under re-examination,� Oram added.
About the cases involving some tea communities, who enjoy ST status in some States and not in others, he said that this matter too has been pending for long, but it is now under advanced stage of consideration.
Last year, the then Tribal Affairs Minister, V Kishore Chandra Deo had said in Parliament that six communities could not fulfil the five criteria for identification as Scheduled Tribes.
The Government of Assam had recommended ST status for the Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Moran, Mattak and tea tribe communities on various occasions. �But these communities do not fulfil the criteria,� he had declared.
The five criteria for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list include: indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large and backwardness.
The six communities have for long been demanding the ST status. In 1996, the Unitied Front government had issued an ordinance including the six communities in the ST list.