“The state is actively looking for new members for the Tribal Welfare Board. It is true that the welfare board was lying idle for more than 10 years, but the ruling party which is committed towards the welfare of tribes has decided to revamp the board and to make it functional,” K Manivasan, secretary, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, told DT Next.
Tamil Nadu is home for 36 different tribes, eight among them are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) as their population is either stagnant of declining. The life of tribal people is characterised by lack of basic amenities in hilly terrains, nutritional deficiencies, high drop-out rate in schools, low literacy rate and migration due to degradation of forest resources.
For the welfare of the tribals and to act as a bridge between them and the state, the Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Board was constituted in 2007 with Minister of Adi Dradivar and Tribal Welfare as the chairperson. Initially, the welfare board was constituted with 8 official members and 13 non-official members and from 2008 to 2010 and Rs 4 crore was allotted for implementing various welfare measures. However, activists claim that many of the schemes for tribals could not reach on time due to apathy.
N Murugesan, founder, Democratic Education Trust, an NGO working to uplift the tribals in Chengalpattu, said that Tribal Welfare Board played a proactive role and it made recommendations on the requirements of the community to the state and obtained them. “As there was no tribal welfare board in the last 10 years, the government did not allot funds for many of the important schemes and many of the tribals could not even get their community certificates due to which their children could not continue their education,” said Murugesan, who also welcomed the decision of the state to revamp the board.
Manivasan said that tribal welfare board is a recommendatory body, but now the newly formed Scheduled Castes/Tribes Welfare Commission is a more powerful body and the commission will actively look into the issues of the tribes.