Solan, April 4
In a setback to the Hattee community of Sirmaur district, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs today clarified that the state government’s proposal to notify ‘tribal status’ to the Trans-Giri area of Sirmaur district, Dodra Kwar subdivision of Shimla district and areas of Shimla and Kullu districts could not be considered due to want of criteria.
In reply to a question posed by Mandi MP Pratibha Singh, the ministry clarified that the state government had submitted a proposal to notify the areas as Scheduled Areas (SA) in Himachal Pradesh and it was duly examined.
“For such a declaration, the criteria are preponderance of tribal population, compactness and the reasonable size of the area, a viable administrative entity such as a district, block or taluk and economic backwardness of the area as compared to the neighbouring areas. Since the state government’s proposal was not in the current form, it could not be considered.”
The provision of Article 244 of the Constitution enables the designation of certain areas as Scheduled and Tribal Areas. The Constitution provides for two types of areas, areas designated as “Schedules Areas” in terms of Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and areas designated as “Tribal Areas” in terms of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The reply further clarified that according to the Constitutional provision of the Fifth Schedule under Article 244(I) of the Constitution, the expression “Schedules Areas” means such areas as the President may by order declare to be Scheduled Areas. The specification of a Scheduled Area or modification of an existing SA is done after consultation with the Governor of that state and through notification issued with the approval of the President.
The ministry also clarified that the Jaunsar Bawar area of Uttarakhand had not been notified as SA neither under Article 244(I) of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, nor the Tribal Area under Article 244(2) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The state government has been pursuing the case since 2016. The Tran-Giri area was part of the erstwhile the Jaunsar Bawar area of Uttarakhand and both areas were part of the royal Sirmaur state. Though Hattee leaders had been claiming that the Jaunsar Bawar area had been granted the tribal status, the ministry’s reply clarified that no such notification had been issued.
Only Kinnaur enjoys the ST status in Himachal. The tribal status to the area requires a constitutional amendment. Over 3 lakh people of 144 panchayats of the area would have benefited from this status.
The BJP leaders, who had promised this status to the Hattee community in the run-up to the last Assembly elections, are in an awkward situation. The issue is likely be a major plank in the next Assembly poll.
BJP leaders in awkward situation
- Only Kinnaur enjoys the ST status in Himachal
- Tribal status to Trans-Giri area needs constitutional amendment
- Over 3 lakh people of 144 panchayats would have benefited
- BJP leaders, who had promised this status to the Hattee community, in awkward situation.
- The issue likely be a major plank in Assembly elections