Deo for policy on tribal rights over mineral reserves

New Delhi: Mining of natural resources is the key reason behind exploitation of tribal people and a national policy is required to establish the right of natives on the mineral reserves available in their area, Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said.

He also said that though government is aware of this issue, coordination between several ministries and departments is required to take this up with the highest levels. "I don`t think anybody disputes the fact that there is exploitation of tribals in the name of mineral resources. In fact the entire problem, the issue, has emerged because of this exploitation," Deo told PTI.

Stressing that tribals should be made stakeholders in the mineral wealth acquired from their areas, he said, "As far as minerals are concerned I think we have to have a national mineral policy. Minerals are national wealth and that is one of the main areas of conflict."

Deo said that a holistic view needs to be taken over the issue as it also concerns non-tribal people living in mineral rich areas. "National mineral policy has to be there for all minerals, whether they are in tribal areas or not and there are lot of minerals with the same issue in non-tribal areas. People there may not be tribals but they have a stake, they also are the citizens of India and they are poor people," he said.

On whether any proposal has been moved from the Tribal Affairs Ministry or any other government department in this regard, he said, "That has to be worked out, first of all they (several Ministries) have to agree in principle."

The Tribal Affairs Minister further said that as the caretaker of tribal people, he has already expressed his viewpoint on this issue to his Cabinet colleagues. "I cannot do it alone. It involves the Mines Ministry, involves the coordination of so many other ministries. As a caretaker of tribals, I have expressed my views to my Cabinet colleagues. It is there in the loop, but this issue needs to be taken to the highest level," he said.

Underlining it as one of his priority areas for his Ministry, he said, "It is not only about benefiting the tribals. It is not a charity. According to me its their right and why should you delay that when it is already delayed for so long."