New Delhi: Opening another front to attack the Narendra Modi government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday accused it of diluting tribal land rights and reducing budgetary allocations for health care and other developmental programmes for them.
In a statement in New Delhi, Ms. Gandhi said the government must adopt the recommendations of the Virginus Xaxa Committee, which was set up by the UPA government in 2013 to assess the socio- economic status of tribals in the country, without any further delay.
The committee recommended changes in law to prevent further alienation of tribals and give them greater control over resources.
“There are other challenges that confront our tribal population. There has been a considerable cut in budgetary allocations for health care and programmes for tribal development.
“The government's plan to dilute environmental governance and Tribal Land Rights is a serious threat to the welfare of Adivasis,” Ms. Gandhi said in her statement on the occasion of International Day of World's Indigenous People'
She said it is necessary that quality health care facilities are available to tribals.
“It is also imperative that we work with them to mitigate their challenges and realize their opportunities. It is also important that the medical fraternity and government institutions recognize the unique health care challenges of our tribal population and make appropriate investments in related research and development,” Ms. Gandhi said.
The Congress chief also lauded the “invaluable” role in the Freedom Movement played by the tribals and in protecting bio-diversity which are an inseparable part of our ancient heritage and civilization.
“India's 104 million strong Adivasi people share a special relationship with the Congress party. Tribal welfare and development have been central to the ethos of our party.
Through his Panchsheel for Tribal Development, Pandit Nehru laid the framework for the upholding of Tribal Rights, after our Independence. Since then, every Congress government in the Centre and the States have taken numerous pro-tribal initiatives.
“The Congress party remains committed to uphold the Rights and Dignity of our Adivasi brothers and sisters and work zealously for their empowerment,” Ms. Gandhi said.
In another message on the occasion of seventy-third anniversary of the Quit India Movement, Ms. Gandhi said the Congress party shall continue to champion the rights of the people and uphold the aspirations of our freedom fighters.