M A I N   N E W S

PM talks tough on Naxal violence
‘Alienation of tribals taking dangerous turn’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 4
Underlining the need to deal with the raging Naxal violence with determination, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said no sustained development activity was possible under the shadow of the gun and violence could not be tolerated.

“Violence will only bring greater misery to the common people. We have to counter this threat with determination. But while violence can’t be tolerated, the tribals must be the primary beneficiaries of the development process. We have to win the battle for their hearts and their mouths,” he said, while inaugurating the conference of Chief Ministers and state ministers of tribal affairs on the implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 here.

Urging the states to fast-track implementation of the law and distribute titles to tribals at the earliest, PM admitted that systemic failure in giving the tribals a stake in the modern economic processes had led to severe alienation which was now taking a dangerous turn in some parts of our country.

“The systematic exploitation and social and economic abuse of our tribal communities can no longer be tolerated. But no sustained activity is possible under the shadow of the gun. Nor have those who claim to speak for tribals offered an alternate economic or social path that is viable,” Singh said, in an apparent swipe on the Left front government in West Bengal, where Maoists are wreaking havoc in the name of tribal neglect.

The PM advised the states to post competent officers in tribal heartlands where “administrative machinery was either very weak or virtually non-existent.” A similar demand was recently made by the Opposition, with the BJP national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar giving a reference of Maharashtra, where effective officers had made all the difference.

“States should consider offering strong incentives like hardship allowances, special housing and educational facilities or grants for officers who stay in tribal areas. We can draw upon the experience of KBK (Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi in Orissa) programme,” said the PM, also asking the states to review cases registered against tribals over a period of time and “make a fresh start that’s in line with the current thinking.”

He recalled with appreciation how Jharkhand had recently withdrawn over a lakh such cases and Madhya Pradesh which had acted similarly. “I believe the states need to review such cases urgently and take similar action as appropriate,” Singh said, indicating the eagerness of UPA to enact a sensitive land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement law.

“There are many issues related to the losses suffered by tribals displaced as a result of acquisition of land for various purposes. It can’t be said that we have dealt sensitively with these issues in the past,” the PM admitted, adding in no uncertain terms that laws and mechanisms to provide compensation to displaced tribal persons needed to be reviewed.

“More could be done, more should be done. The tribals must benefit from the projects for which they have been displaced. But resettlement and rehabilitation raise serious issues not just of monetary compensation. We have to address issues relating to creating sustainable livelihoods, preserving the traditional sense of community and helping the tribals cope with the trauma of dislocation and alienation,” he said, asking the Tribal Affairs Ministry to examine the suggestions of Mungekar Committee on inter-sectoral issues which has made important recommendations on standards of public administration and governance in tribal areas.



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