BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to consolidate its position among the tribals which constitute 22 per cent of the population, the State Government on Wednesday decided to empower them by establishing special development councils in nine tribal- dominated districts.
“These councils will have proportionate representation from the tribes of each district and they will have decision-making powers and financial resources to preserve, promote and develop their unique socio-cultural identities and economic capacities,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced after a Cabinet meeting.
Approving the single agenda, the Cabinet meeting, chaired by the Chief Minister, decided to allocate `1.5 crores to each block under the proposed councils.This will entail financial involvement of `175.5crorese per annum and this will be over and above the existing schemes.
“Finance will not be a constraint. Provision will be made in the supplementary budget for the proposed councils,” said Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera. The State Cabinet decided to set up special development councils in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts.
Explaining the need to constitute such councils, the Chief Minister said, “In a democratic system based on majority, it is our experience that many small tribal groups do not get represented directly in higher decision making fora. It is in this context that the formation of these development councils is significant.” This will be a landmark step towards empowerment of every tribe __ irrespective of the size of their population. Apart from preserving the unique identity of each tribe, it will bring about inclusive growth, Naveen said.
The Chief Minister said that growth is not about statistics but it has a holistic dimension, only if it is inclusive. Details about the composition and functions of the councils will be notified shortly, he said. Noting that 5 lakh tribal students are studying in residential schools, the Chief Minister said the State has taken the lead in the country in settlement of land under Forest Rights Act. Making kendu leaf pluckers as partners and providing dividend and bonus to them is a case study in empowerment and participatory growth, he said. Odisha is home to 62 Scheduled Tribes of which 13 tribes belong to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).