Updated February 8th, 2024 at 19:24 IST
Parliament Passes Bills to Amend SC, ST lists in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha
On Thursday, the Lok Sabha passed two bills, approving the addition of 3 communities to the ST list in Andhra Pradesh and 4 in Odisha.
NEW DELHI: The Parliament, on Thursday, passed two bills by a voice vote which are looking to modify the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the states of 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 Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The first bill is aimed at modifying 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.
In Andhra Pradesh, three ethnic groups, namely the Bonda Porja, Khond Porja and Parangiperja, are being added to the ST list. In Odisha, four groups are being added to the list.
Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, P Pawar, while replying to the debate on the bills, said that the Modi government has done a lot for the upliftment of the nation's tribal communities. Furthermore, she noted that several schemes launched by the government, such as the Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan, have improved the economic conditions of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
All of the groups being added to lists in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are PVTGs and they have been added after 75 years of Independence, she added.
During the debate, the opposition members 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.
Initiating the debate, Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka of the Congress welcomed the bill but pointed out that about 150 to 200 tribes have been added to the list of Scheduled Tribes in the past five years.
"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.
NCP MP (Sharad Pawar faction) Supriya Sule and Abdul Khaleque of the Congress also demanded that the Centre should form a JPC for meeting various communities that demand ST status and a comprehensive bill can be brought before Parliament.
Saugata Roy of TMC meanwhile called for simplifying the process for communities to get ST status.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan 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 tribal people," he said.
With inputs from PTI.
Published February 8th, 2024 at 19:24 IST