SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Government is continuously making efforts to protect the interests of tribal people, including their land, education and upliftment of their socio-economic status.
Last year, J&K government scripted history with Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, handing over individual and community rights certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar, Bakarwal and Gaddi Sippi communities under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The initiative was hailed as a significant step with a potential to transform the lives of members of tribal communities across Jammu and Kashmir.
Describing the occasion as “historic”, Sinha expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making it possible to implement the Act in the Union Territory (UT), and said the move will usher a new era of empowerment and prosperity for the deprived tribal population here.
The tribal communities were not only provided rights on forest land, but they also got rights over minor forest produce. The government, in coordination with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited, will establish infrastructure for collection, value addition, packaging, and distribution of this forest produce.
In areas where community rights have been granted, Rs 10 crore is provided for infrastructure development including works on roads, power supply, Anganwadi centres etc.
The community had struggled for more than 14 years to get their rights, it was only in Manoj Sinha led administration, rights were conferred upon the tribal community through implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, keeping in mind the basic spirit of social equality and harmony as guided by the constitution of country and the Parliament.
For providing education on modern lines to Tribal children, the UT government’s started an ambitious project of transforming 200 Schools into Smart Schools in Tribal areas at a cost of Rs 40 crores. The modernization of Smart Schools initiative would be completed by March 2022.
Lieutenant Governor congratulated the Tribal communities for the historic beginning of the new era of educational empowerment of Tribals in J&K.
“Our priority is to secure the future of tribal children. Smart schools in tribal & remote areas equipped with modern facilities will develop scientific temper in children and make them future-ready, besides arresting the drop-out rate,” the Lieutenant Governor said after the launch of the initiative.
J&K administration is collectively spending around Rs 104 crore to strengthen school infrastructure in tribal areas and establish a strong educational ecosystem for the tribal community. Besides Smart schools, Rs 8.50 crore were spent on the modernization of hostels of the Tribal Department and new hostels are being built at a cost of Rs 4 crores In July.
The UT administration has set up two Eklavya Model Schools in Rajouri, one each in Anantnag, Poonch, Kulgam and Bandipora.
For the welfare of the tribal population, J&K UT Govt implements and devises various programmes and schemes to fill critical gaps taking into account the situation of STs through financial assistance and initiatives. These include economic, educational and social development through institution building in critical sectors through specially tailored schemes.
To ensure that Tribal youth excel in professional fields, 500 youth were selected for different professional courses with aid of Government.
“An annual outlay of Rs 30 cr has been earmarked for scholarships of tribal students. Fifteen hostels for tribal students were upgraded and modernized,” an official said.
The government of India has also approved a project for Tribal Transit Accommodation at eight locations to be constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at an estimated cost of Rs 28 crore.
For economic empowerment of the Tribal population, Tribal Affairs Department has rolled out a plan for the establishment of Milk Villages, Milk Chilling plants(MCP), Milk Product Processing and other facilities in tribal villages aimed to support milk production and supply chain in these areas. The project is aimed at providing employment to more than 1500 tribal youth and infrastructure creation in Phase-I which will be followed by expanded coverage of all districts.
Sixteen villages have been taken up in Phase-I for the establishment of Milk Villages while 2 ongoing projects are for completion, with an overall outlay of Rs 1500 Lakhs.
All the Milk Villages approved by the Tribal Affairs Department are being established with 100% Government funding meanwhile the department is actively coordinating with banks and financial institutions for the establishment of 100 Milk Villages and Chilling Plants with Public-Private Partnership wherein scheme upfront subsidy and interest subvention is being explored.
In short, with the implementation of FRA-2006, the tribal communities are getting their due rights which they were yearning for decades and the government has also initiated several other steps to uplift the economic as well as social conditions of tribal communities.