Panel favours reservation for nomadic tribes

The National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNSNT) has recommended reservations as available to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to around 11 crore people falling under the denotified, nomadic or semi-nomadic tribe categories.

"As a constitutional safeguard, we have favoured reservations from Gram Panchayat level to the Parliament level, and in education and employment for these tribes like it is available for SCs and STs," NCDNSNT sources told The Indian Express on Wednesday. The Commission has further sought relief for these categories of tribes by extending the Prevention of Atrocities Act to them. The Act currently applies to only SCs and STs.

NCDNSNT Chairman Balkrishna Sidram Renke presented the final copy of the Commission's study on the socio-economic conditions of these tribes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday. Renke urged the Prime Minister to have the recommendations processed urgently for a final decision and early implementation. The Prime Minister assured the Commission of expeditious action on the recommendations.

Sources said that the Commission has further recommended that the government should get a "tent to tent" survey done within the next six months and also a community-wise census so as to gather specific data about 1,500 nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes and 150 denotified tribes.

Further, the Commission has recommended the initiation of a special housing scheme to ensure that families are provided with "small pucca houses" in the next five years. "Since most of the people falling under these tribes have no addresses, they can never get access to voter cards and ration cards. A housing scheme is a must to give hundreds of these people addresses," a senior NCDNSNT official said.

Another significant point mooted by the Commission relates to providing many of these "on the move" nomadic tribes permanent shelter by helping them settle down as villages. "The Government should be facilitating the settlement of such tribes as villages by acquiring land for the purpose," the official added. The Commission has also mooted the idea of putting an Minimum Land Holding Act in place to guarantee land to these tribes in case they want to settle down and engage in agriculture. Another important recommendation is to help these tribes develop their existing skills by imparting them suitable training.

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