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Panel for upgradation of Fifth Schedule areas

By AJIT PATOWARY
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GUWAHATI, Jan 16 � Contrary to the stand of several organisations in Assam against Sixth Schedule areas, the High Level Committee, constituted by the Central government with Prof Virginius Xaxa as its Chairman to examine the socio-economic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of the country, has recommended extension of the pattern of the Sixth Schedule in the form of Autonomous Councils in the Fifth Schedule areas.

The Fifth Schedule areas of the country are located in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odissa and Rajasthan.

The Committee said that the extension of the Sixth Schedule areas should be done in accordance with the �Provisions of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996�. The specific provision notes that �the State Legislature shall endeavour to follow the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, while designing the administrative arrangements in the panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas,� said the above legislation.

The Committee maintained that this pattern would provide tribal areas with an institutional structure that mediates between the State government and hamlet-level Gram Sabha. There are various forms of Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas. These are represented by Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Assam, it said.

It recommended that the laws and policies enacted by the Parliament and State Legislatures should not be automatically applied in the Fifth Schedule areas (as was the case under colonial rule or as is presently the case in the Sixth Schedule areas). Its applicability should be made contingent on the discretion of the Governor who would determine its applicability or non-applicability or applicability with modifications/amendments on the advice of Tribes Advisory Council, it said.

In case the above is untenable, the Committee said the Governor should be mandated to take the advice of the Tribes Advisory Council and examine legislations and policies (particularly, though not exclusively, those pertaining to issues such as forests, land acquisition, conservation, mines and minerals, health and education) passed by the Parliament or State Legislatures and the implications of the same on tribal welfare. A mechanism for such examination and action should be clearly stated and established, the Committee said.

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Panel for upgradation of Fifth Schedule areas

GUWAHATI, Jan 16 � Contrary to the stand of several organisations in Assam against Sixth Schedule areas, the High Level Committee, constituted by the Central government with Prof Virginius Xaxa as its Chairman to examine the socio-economic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of the country, has recommended extension of the pattern of the Sixth Schedule in the form of Autonomous Councils in the Fifth Schedule areas.

The Fifth Schedule areas of the country are located in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odissa and Rajasthan.

The Committee said that the extension of the Sixth Schedule areas should be done in accordance with the �Provisions of Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996�. The specific provision notes that �the State Legislature shall endeavour to follow the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, while designing the administrative arrangements in the panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas,� said the above legislation.

The Committee maintained that this pattern would provide tribal areas with an institutional structure that mediates between the State government and hamlet-level Gram Sabha. There are various forms of Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas. These are represented by Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Assam, it said.

It recommended that the laws and policies enacted by the Parliament and State Legislatures should not be automatically applied in the Fifth Schedule areas (as was the case under colonial rule or as is presently the case in the Sixth Schedule areas). Its applicability should be made contingent on the discretion of the Governor who would determine its applicability or non-applicability or applicability with modifications/amendments on the advice of Tribes Advisory Council, it said.

In case the above is untenable, the Committee said the Governor should be mandated to take the advice of the Tribes Advisory Council and examine legislations and policies (particularly, though not exclusively, those pertaining to issues such as forests, land acquisition, conservation, mines and minerals, health and education) passed by the Parliament or State Legislatures and the implications of the same on tribal welfare. A mechanism for such examination and action should be clearly stated and established, the Committee said.