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LS debates on bills to amend SC, ST lists in Andhra, Odisha; Opposition members seek JPC

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (PTI) Opposition members on Thursday urged the government to form a joint parliamentary committee to evaluate demands of various communities to be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes, saying piecemeal measures would not help.

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The Lok Sabha took up for discussion two bills which seek to modify the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 were both passed by the Rajya Sabha.

The first bill seeks to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes in Andhra Pradesh, while the second one seeks to modify the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Odisha.

Initiating the debate, Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka of Congress welcomed the bill but pointed out that around 150 to 200 tribes have been added to the list of Scheduled Tribes in the past five years.

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"There are around 12 crore Scheduled Tribes across the country. When we were in government, there used to be a procedure, where a JPC was constituted, MPs were part of it. They used to visit places, check the criteria and recommend who is ST and who is not," Ulaka said.

"In the last four-five years, I think we have included almost 150 to 200 tribes in scheduled tribes. In Odisha, anyone who comes demanding ST status, the state government sends it to the central government. They have sent around 180 tribes to be considered as ST. This naturally raises a concern if the demands are genuine or not," he said, and added a JPC should look into the issue.

In Andhra Pradesh, three more ethnic groups - - Bondo Porja, Khond Porja, Parangiperja are being added to the list of Scheduled Tribes, while in Odisha four groups will be added.

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All these are part of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups and they have been added to the scheduled list after 75 years of independence.

The bill was moved in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Bharati Pawar, who said these are primitive tribes, which are particularly vulnerable tribal groups.

In his speech, Ulaka said, "If you make everyone tribal where will tribals go? Due norms have been followed or not is the main concern for us." He also said tribals don't have access to banking system, and do not get loans against their land.

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Ulaka further raised the Hasdeo Arand issue and said, "In Chhattisgarh when they came to power they immediately started deforestation in the Hasdeo area. The last nail in coffin will be Uniform Civil Code, when it comes, our culture will be finished. Our culture is out only property".

Protests have been going on against felling of trees in the Hasdeo-Arand coalfield ares of Chhattisgarh, a region that is called "lungs of Chhattisgarh".

NCP MP (Sharad Pawar faction) Supriya Sule and Abdul Khaleque of Congress also demanded that the Centre forms a JPC for meeting various communities that demand ST status and a comprehensive bill can be brought before Parliament.

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Saugata Roy of TMC meanwhile called for simplifying the process for communities to get ST status.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan meanwhile intervened in the debate and welcomed the bill.

"This is as important that this bill is coming at a time when a tribal woman is the president of India. The government is committed to protecting tribals," he said. PTI AO AO ZMN ZMN

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