The tribal population in India lags behind other social groups on various social parameters, such as child mortality and infant mortality and women’s health, says the latest annual report of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
Tribal population, with a vast majority engaged in agricultural labour, has a higher incidence of anaemia in women when compared to other social groups.
The community also registered the highest child mortality and infant mortality rates, when compared to other social groups, the data indicates.
While educational achievement on the whole has improved, statistics cited elsewhere in the report shows that the gross enrolment ratio among tribal students in the primary school level has declined from 113.2 in 2013-14 to 109.4 in 2015-16. Besides, the dropout rate among tribal students has been alarming.
While the overall poverty rates among the tribal population have fallen compared to previous years, they remain relatively poor when weighed against other social groups.
Health infrastructure has also been found wanting in tribal areas. At an all-India level, there is a shortfall of 6,796 sub-centres, 1,267 primary health centres and 309 community health centres in the tribal areas as on March 31, 2015, the report points out.
Gaps in rehabilitation
Further, it exposes the gaps in the rehabilitation of the tribal community members displaced by development projects. Of an estimated 85 lakh persons displaced due to development projects and natural calamities, only 21 lakh were shown to have been rehabilitated so far, the report states.
Responding to this figure, Sudhir Pattanaik, Odisha-based social activist and Editor, Samadrusti , told The Hindu that even the 21 lakh resettlement figure in the report is questionable as there is no way to verify this data.
Based on what he had witnessed in the case of displacement caused by mining plants and captive power projects set up in the past in Angul, Koraput, Raigadh and Kalahandi districts in the State, Mr. Pattanaik said it was tribal land acquisition and not tribal development that was the focus of the government. “Rehabilitation only happens on paper, and any compensation for displaced adivasi folks is siphoned off by others in their name,” he said.