Land Bill will benefit tribal community
Nowadays it seems as if the tribal community is facing exploitation while industries are allegedly making huge profits. How will you address these concerns? How will the new Land Bill aid the development of various tribal communities?
There is no doubt that both — the industry and tribals — are related and dependent on each other in terms of land. In the recent past, many industries have come <g data-gr-id="97">up on</g> tribal lands. The experience for members of the tribal community has been both good and the bad. There are several cases where industries have done a lot for the upliftment of affected families by rehabilitating them after taking their land for the establishment of different commercial entities. At the same, however, certain tribal communities are still going through the ordeal they had faced after their land was acquired, despite promises of better rehabilitation. The sad part of the story is that such tribal communities are left with no choice, but to live in pathetic conditions.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Democratic Alliance led government is committed to <g data-gr-id="96">holistic</g> development of tribal communities. Our ministry has taken cognisance of the issue and initiated action against errant land grabbers. The government is continuously formulating policies such that members of various tribal communities are not duped during land transactions. The ministry will take total precaution during the formulation of such policies to avoid such exploitation, especially in the mining sector. There is no denying the fact that building an industrial and manufacturing base is the need of the hour. The development of the tribal community is also a very pertinent issue. The government is working in that direction. The new Land Bill will play a very crucial role in balancing the interests of both.
Tribal communities will benefit from the passage of the new Land Bill. According to the revised provisions of the new Land Bill, members in the tribal community will receive four times the compensation once they give away their plot of land. The Bill also ensures the provision of a job to one family member of the farmer, allied with their proper rehabilitation. The ministry will play the role in enforcing land buyers to implement tribal-friendly clauses in the latest Land Bill. In the erstwhile UPA government’s bill, there were no such provisions of taking the responsibility of enforcing such clauses.
In the present Land Bill, other laws have been surpassed such as Coal Bearing Act, due to which members of the tribal community faced several problems. As per the UPA’s Land Bill, land owners were not allowed to practice agriculture on that particular land soon after the area was declared coal bearing. Also, tribals were not allowed to sell the land. These were basic problems in the previous bill brought forward by the Congress to help members of the industry. In the new bill, however, all such problems have been sorted out. Tribals will get more benefits from the new Land Bill.
In the past few years, your ministry has been demanding its inclusion in the process of according green clearances from the Environment Ministry. What will be your future course of action?
There is no clash of interests between Tribal and Environment ministry. They are doing their work and we are doing our part. There is a clear demarcation of what each ministry’s role entails. We are changing our Forest Rights Act in accordance to our needs and requirements. There were some projects pending in the Environment Ministry from the previous regime, which were to be cleared. The ousted government had intentionally left such projects incomplete to create problems for its successor. So, that part has been done. However, it does not mean that we will dilute Forest Rights Act or Forest Conservation Act. This is just an attempt to defame the government. The priorities are to have factories and mines without creating any problems for tribals. The Modi government is committed to ensuring the rights of tribals.
There are several instances, where green land, an asset for the tribal, is being sold by various fraudulent means. The sad part is that even tribals are also involved in this illegal practice. What are your plans to curb such crimes?
You are right. Given the fact that tribals are innocent people, they inadvertently walk into the trap set up by various land mafias. People involved in this racket get the green land transferred in the name of a fake tribal by producing counterfeit caste certificate and false ‘pattas’. When we come across such incidents, we make our best efforts to register the land back to the original landholder. In this regard, the Centre plays the role of the advisory body. The government at the Centre issues guidelines to keep a check on such incidents. It’s the responsibility of state governments to implement them. The present policies are enough to control the crime, so there is no need to legislate any new law in this regard.
Tell us about your plans for the various skill development schemes that the ruling government has offered to train tribal youth and make them self-dependent?
It’s good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created a new ministry dedicated to skill development. Here, I would also like to tell you that our ministry is also running vocational training courses. There is a need to add some more job-oriented courses under the ongoing professional scheme of the ministry. We are planning to include more vocational courses such as security guard training, nurses training, hotel management training, etc. These courses will benefit the tribal population and allow them to secure jobs in these sectors. The Tribal youth would receive the benefit of vocational training and explore new avenues.