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27 Jul 2017

Tribal councils for 9 districts of Orissa

SUBRAT DAS, TT, Bhubaneswar, July 26: The state government of Orissa today decided to set up special development councils in nine tribal-dominated districts to ensure that the local inhabitants, including the endangered tribes, had active participation in decision making.
The decision, taken by the state cabinet today, aims to woo the tribal people, who constitute 22 per cent of the state's population. There are 62 tribal groups, of which 13 belong to the vulnerable primitive groups. They are spread over 44 per cent of the state's geographical area and form 10 per cent of the country's tribal population.
Announcing the cabinet decision, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said: "These councils will have representations from every tribe present in the districts. They will have decision-making powers and financial resources to preserve, promote and develop their unique socio-cultural identities and economic capacities."
Naveen admitted: "In a democratic system based on the majority, it is our experience that many small tribal groups do not get represented directly in higher decision making. It is in this context that the formation of these councils will be significant."
The councils will prepare plans and programmes for 117 blocks in nine tribal-dominated districts - for which Rs 1.5 crore will be spent every year for each of the blocks. These councils will take up cultural, educational and economic development in harmony with the unique identity and ethos of the people, said an official.
"These funds will be made available over and above the existing developmental and welfare schemes for the tribal people. All together, Rs 175.5 crore will be spent every year on these councils," said development commissioner R. Balakrishnan.
"This is an experiment. The programme would be strengthened further, basing on the response," he said.
The composition of the councils has not been finalised. "It will be notified by the government from time to time. These councils would have representation from every tribe present in the district, irrespective of the size of their population," said chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi.
At present, there are integrated tribal development agencies, district planning committees, zila parishads and panchayati raj institutions at the grassroots level for chalking out projects in the concerned areas.
Nine districts, where the councils are being set up, are Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur.

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