Way forward for ST

  • The High-Level Committee (Virginius Xaxa committee) has made numerous recommendations such as exclusive mining rights for tribals, greater freedom for tribals to make decisions on land acquisition and other common property resources and, strict implementation of the new land law, Forest Rights Act and strengthening of the PESA.
  • It has also proposed a complete overhaul of the legal constitutional regime by recommending that laws and policies enacted by the Parliament and state legislatures shouldn’t be applied automatically in the Fifth Schedule areas.
  • State government should be made to obtain permissions from owners and occupiers of land for major minerals, and consult with gram Sabha in 5th and 6th schedule areas for minor minerals.
  • It should be mandated that all clearances (forest and environment) under forest conservation act and wildlife protection act should be taken before a lease was given.
  • Tribal cooperatives should be made eligible for grant of license of minor minerals in 5th and 6th schedule areas.

Although, these recommendations are progressive, the lack of political will to implement them, especially in the wake of greater push for industrialization by the present government, may become a major stumbling block. The government should ensure the distorted and over-exploitative capitalist sector doesn’t end up in committing ethnocide by putting their economic and cultural survival at stake.