GUWAHATI, June 16 - Opposing the Central Government�s move to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the six communities of Assam, the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA) � the umbrella organisation of the ST communities of the State - would meet the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda on this issue.
The tribal organisations, which have been opposing the inclusion of any other community in the ST category, would also place the demand to increase the fund allocation for the Scheduled Tribes� welfare.
In a meeting of the coordination committee held today, the member organisations decided to send a delegation to New Delhi on June 30 to meet the Union ministers and make their stand clear.
�Such a move to grant ST status to new communities would snatch away the rights and privileges given to the existing tribes of the State. Besides, after seven decades of the country�s Independence, the inclusion of new communities in the ST category is not acceptable. Rather, the genuine grievances of the existing ST people should be addressed on a priority basis,� chief coordinator of the committee and secretary general of the All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) Aditya Khaklari told The Assam Tribune.
�Also, compared to the funds meant for the welfare of the minority communities, the fund given to tribal communities is much less. We will raise these issues in our meeting with the Union Home Minister,� Khaklari said.
The protests against the proposed inclusion of new communities in the ST list grew stronger in State after Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s promise to expedite the process of granting ST status to those communities ahead of the last Lok Sabha elections.
Other points raised in the meeting included opposition to the Assam State Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2017. �We have a concern that if it is implemented, this Act will adversely impact the tribal blocks and belts belonging to the Rabha, Tiwa, Karbi, Hajong and Bodo people in the name of expanding the State capital region.
It also raised the issue of lack of proper implementation of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, which allows the traditional forest dwellers a right to hold and live in their traditional land within the forest area.
�In Assam, we have witnessed several instances of eviction of indigenous people from their forest land. On the other hand, the authorities concerned hardly take action on the big businessmen, encroachers and doubtful citizens encroaching upon the forest land,� the tribal body said.