Middlemen cornered Rs 900 cr meant for welfare of endangered tribes
However, the national auditor, while working on the TSP across India, was stumbled into some disturbing facts that revealed the embezzlement to the tune of Rs 900 crore (approximately) in the past five years. The CAG found that coconut and bananas were being procured for the Shompen tribe, whom the government has not contacted for years.
Moreover, funds have been diverted towards recreational facilities in the name of promoting sports in tribal areas. Some states have used funds, allocated under the TSP – which aims at the development of tribal community – to develop non-tribal areas due to <g data-gr-id="63">poor</g> demarcation of land meant for the tribal community.
The suspected diversion of funds and poor implementation and monitoring of schemes drew the CAG’s attention.
Sources said the audit, which is underway, started a few months ago. Though the report has not been published, sources said the national auditor observed that nearly Rs 700 crore was sanctioned for the welfare of tribes in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the past five years, but a sizable amount was siphoned off or misused for non-tribal works.
Instead of palm fronds for making huts, tribal communities such Jarawas and Andamanese were forced to live in makeshift huts with a tin rooftop – an accommodation to which they are not accustomed to. According to sources, bills worth around Rs 50 crore were issued in the name of procuring raw materials to make houses and clothes for these tribes living in the remote areas of the archipelago.
In Odisha, Ho and Holva tribes, who mainly depend on agriculture for livelihood, failed to get machinery, seeds and adequate irrigation facilities even after around Rs 150 crore was sanctioned for the purpose.
Around <g data-gr-id="36">Rs</g> 33 lakh was utilised in procuring cotton vests for Hill <g data-gr-id="34">Korwa</g> tribe of Chhattisgarh and <g data-gr-id="35">Limboo</g> tribe of Sikkim, who usually don’t wear such clothes, in the past few years.
Expressing its dismay over the findings, the national auditor has noted that in the last five years “middlemen” or NGOs continued minting money in the name of tribal welfare, which accumulates to additional Rs 125 crore through diverting funds in providing rations, education materials and sports items.
The audit was conducted across India, covering around 25 <g data-gr-id="51">per cent</g> of 10,42,81,034 (9,38,19,162 rural and 1,04,61,872 urban as per the 2011 Census) tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, etc. “It was observed that the objective to provide <g data-gr-id="47">better</g> livelihood for the tribes in India through TSP was a complete failure. Shockingly, in some remote areas, the local tribal body did not even keep the record of expenses incurred for the last five years and there is no clue of nearly Rs 250 crore allocated for tribal development,” sources said.
It was also observed that TSP funds are not in proportion to the tribal population. Whatever little is being provided is notional and that too in a disintegrated manner. Besides the improper allocation of funds, reports of nearly 89 <g data-gr-id="40">acre</g> of tribal land was reported to be encroached upon and additional 150 acre has been used for illegal mining in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, etc.