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HC directs Govt to take measures to provide ration cards to the tribals

The Madurai bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the government to take appropriate measures to provide ration cards to the tribal community.

HC directs Govt to take measures to provide ration cards to the tribals
Representative Image


R. Mallika, a petitioner from Pannaikadu, Dindigul district sought direction from the court to conduct a survey in all tribal villages in southern districts of Tamil Nadu and to issue ration cards or family cards to the tribal people who are lacking it in accordance with law.

Due to the Covid pandemic and lockdown, tribal and forest-dwelling people could not market their products and their economic situation has turned from bad to worse. Mostly the tribal population depends on the forest-produce such as honey fresh tubers (Kilangu), pepper, and so on for their livelihood during the summer season. Once the rainy season begins in July, the tribal people could not collect the forest produce and so they are left in the lurch without any source of income. This economic situation has forced the tribals to depend upon help from Government NGOs, small volunteer groups, and individuals. As of now, the tribal people who were once a self-sustaining population have now turned into a dependent population.

The state government offered monetary assistance of Rs.4,000 as  Covid relief along with the 14 essential grocery items for over two crore rice cardholders in the State. But, these relief measures did not reach many of the tribal families, mainly due to the non-availability of ration cards among most of the tribal families in the State. It‘s to be noted that Rs.4,000 is comparatively a huge sum of money for the tribal people, especially during this pandemic time.

The public distribution system in Tamil Nadu ensures food security to all citizens, particularly poor people by making available essential commodities of good quality at an affordable prices every month, through 'fair price shops'.

But the indigenous tribal communities are left in lurch during this pandemic without any assistance due to lack of ration cards, the petitioner said.

According to the data available on the government website, the tribal population in India is 84.51 million, which constitutes 8.14% of the tribal population. There are about 449 tribes and sub-tribes in different parts of India.

Tamil Nadu has 7.21 lakh tribal populations as per 2011 census which constitutes 1.10% of the total population. There are 36 tribes and sub-tribes in Tamil Nadu, the petitioner stated.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice M. Duraiswamy, after hearing, directed the petitioner to submit a fresh petition to Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, which should conduct a proper survey and ensure provision of ration cards to the needy tribals. The case was then disposed of.

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