Congress slams Gujarat Govt for ‘ignoring’ tribals

Gandhinagar: Opposition Congress on Wednesday accused Gujarat's BJP Government of ignoring tribals and making inadequate budgetary allocations for their welfare.

"In the last 15 years, tribals are one section of the society who had continuously suffered grave injustices at the hands of this Government," Congress leader Ashwin Kotwal said in the State Assembly during discussion on budgetary demands of the Tribal Development Department.

In the past, Congress Government had set up and maintained a separate corporation through which adivasis were provided jobs and other facilities, he maintained.

"But BJP Government disbanded the tribal corporation and replaced it with a private agency, which is run by non-Gujarati people who are not in the position to understand the problems of tribals," the legislator from Khedbrahma said.

Congress MLAs who took part in the discussion strongly criticised the budgetary provisions made by the Government for the tribals for the year 2013-14. The Government has allocated Rs 205.24 crore for Scheduled Tribe welfare and Rs 4,934 crore for tribal area sub-schemes in the next fiscal.

"The Government had been ignoring tribals. For the past many years whatever provisions were made for them in the State Budget, they had been systematically diverted to other works," said Congress MLA from Bhiloda Anil Joshiyara.

"Please stop the diversion of the budgetary funds specifically allocated for tribal areas," he said.

Congress MLA from Chhota Udepur Mohansinh Rathwa demanded that the government immediately take up a survey of 12 districts, which have significant tribal population, to ascertain how much development has taken place there.

Tribal Welfare Minister Ganpat Vasava, rejecting the Congress allegations, claimed that the BJP Government has in the past 12 years allocated more funds for adivasis than what the Congress Governments earmarked in 40 years.

"BJP Government has launched a revolutionary (tribal welfare) scheme, 'Vanbandhu Kalyan', for which more than Rs 15,000 crore had been allocated for five years. This sum is much more than the Centre's allocation for tribals in the whole country," the Minister claimed.

Following the discussion, budgetary demands for the department were passed in the Assembly by a voice vote.