“Eklavya Schools and skill development are vital for welfare of STs”
“Economic and social advancement of hard-working people of Scheduled Tribes (STs) has received core attention of the government. The allocation under Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) was increased from Rs 21,811 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 32,508 crore in 2018-19, Rs 39,135 has been allocated under STC for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes. The budget of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has increased to Rs 6000 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 5329.32 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 4816.92 in 2016-17. Furthermore, during 2017-18, 92.85 per cent of the total allocated STC amount was released by different Central ministries/departments against various development projects relating to education, health, agriculture, irrigation, roads, housing, electrification, employment generation, skill development, etc,” said Union Minister of Tribal Affairs in an interview with Ravi Mishra. Exclusive:
What steps has your Ministry taken for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes?
Ministry of Tribal Affairs continued its endeavours for socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes (STs) through especially tailored educational, infrastructure and livelihood schemes to fill in for critical gaps. Allocation of Business Rules (ABR) of the government now mandates this Ministry to monitor “Tribal Sub-Plan” (now called Scheduled Tribe Component) funds of Central ministries based on the framework and mechanism designed by NITI Aayog. In order to consistently improve public service delivery, we continuously review various schematic initiatives; the recent ones being rationalisation of scholarship schemes, on-boarding of scheme on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), online portal for NGO grants, etc.
Economic and social advancement of hard-working people of Scheduled Tribes (STs) has received core attention of the government. The allocation under Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) was increased from Rs 21,811 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 32,508 crore in 2018-19, Rs 39,135 has been allocated under STC for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes. The budget of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has increased to Rs 6000 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 5329.32 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 4816.92 in 2016-17. Furthermore, during 2017-18, 92.85 per cent of the total allocated STC amount was released by different Central ministries/departments against various development projects relating to education, health, agriculture, irrigation, roads, housing, electrification, employment generation, skill development, etc.
With the implementation of the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) complete transparency and monitoring of funds released is ensured by the Ministry. All agencies receiving funds from the Ministry on 100 per cent basis and sub-agencies that receive funds from the main agency have been on-boarded in the system. This ensures tracking of utilisation of funds by the implementing agencies.
Talking about skill development, what initiatives has your Ministry taken?
Ministry of Tribal Affairs provides recurring grants under the scheme of VTC for running vocational trainingcentres (VTCs) by state governments/NGOs. The scheme is implemented through the state government. However, as a part of rationalisation of the schemes of the Ministry, it has been decided to subsume the intervention of vocational training centres under the schemes of Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme (SCA to TSS) onwards. A total of Rs 2773.99 lakh funds have been provided between 2014-15 and 2017-18 to state governments/NGOs in six states under VTC scheme of the Ministry.
An amount of Rs 1019.27 crore has been released to various states under the scheme Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme and grants under Article 275(1) during 2014-15 to 2017-18 for skill development of more than 3,37,000 male and female tribal beneficiaries in a wide gamut of trades such as office management, solar technician/electrician, beautician, handicrafts, skill required for day-to-day construction works like plumbing, mason, fitter, welder, carpenter, refrigeration and A/C repairing, mobile repairing, etc.
What steps have you taken for educational development of Scheduled Tribes?
Education is the means through which we can bring about a sea change of STs. To attain this goal, we have started Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs). As on 31-03-2018, 271 EMRSs are sanctioned and 190 are functional in various states. As per budget announcement 2018-19, all the blocks (having 50 per cent or more ST population percentage and 20,000 or more ST population) are likely to have an EMRS by 2022. During the last four years, 106 new EMRSs with total capacity of 50,880 students at a rate of 480 students per school have been sanctioned (30 in 2014-15, 32 in 2015-16 and 14 in 2017-18. Further, 51 EMRSs were made functional during last four years. There are a total of 1545 hostels, sanctioned by our Ministry for tribal boys and girls in the country at present. Out of this, the number of hostels for boys is 544 hostels and 1001 hostels for girls.
What initiatives have you taken for development and marketing of tribal products/produce?
Under Institutional Support for Development and Marketing of Tribal Products/Produce scheme, grants-in-aid are released to State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations and Tribal Cooperative Development Federation India Ltd. (TRIFED), which is a multi-state cooperative under MoTA. The objective f the scheme is to create institutions for the STs to support marketing and development of activities they depend on for their livelihood. These are sought to be achieved by specific measures like market intervention, training and skill up-gradation of tribal artisans, craftmen, MFP gatherers, R&D/IPR activity and supply chain infrastructure development.
What is more, with the help of online platforms such Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart, etc, the business of minor forest produce has witnessed a sharp increase. Earlier its turnover was to the tune of Rs 20 crore, now it is expected to reach Rs 100 crore.
Please tell us about Minimum Support Price to Minor Forest Produce.
Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce (MSP for MFP) scheme, started by Ministry of Tribal Affairs in the year 2013-14, was the first step in the direction of providing fair price to tribals. Initially, the scheme included 10 MFPs in nine states. It was later expanded to 24 MFPs and in all states.
A considerable number of ST people are afflicted with sickle cell disease. What have you done to combat this menace?
With government institutions like ICMR, we did tests and documentation of sickle cell disease. In fact, we are comprehensively working on completely eradicating this disease.