NEW DELHI: In a bid to give more autonomy to local tribal population, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has asked the Lakshadweep administration to examine if the Union Territory can come under the 6th Schedule tribal areas. However, with Lakshadweep being a UT, the Commission will consult legal experts on how the provisions can be worked out before it approaches the Ministry of Home Affairs with its recommendation.
According to the 2011 Census, Lakshadweep has a total population of 64,473, of which scheduled tribe (STs) comprise 94.8 per cent.“With around 94 per cent of the population being tribals, the Commission is of the view that locals should have more say in their financial affairs and should have more autonomy. The Commission has asked the Lakshadweep administration to examine if the UT can eventually come under the 6th Schedule. We are also consulting legal experts as the Constitutional provisions need to be seen first. The whole idea is to give locals more power,” said S K Ratho, NCST joint secretary.
The Commission recently visited Lakshadweep where the members interacted with the local administration and the community members. “Tribal population here has little said in financial affairs, unlike in panchayats in the mainland,” said Ratho. Currently, the 6th Schedule tribal areas are Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram which gives its tribal population autonomy. In these tribal areas, there is the constitution of the district and regional councils where existing tribal councils are consulted.