Impact of COVID-19 on tribal communities

Tribal Affairs

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MINISTRY OF TRIBAL AFFAIRS RAJYA SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.#622 TO BE ANSWERED ON: 17.09.2020 IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON TRIBAL COMMUNITIES 622. # DR. AMAR PATNAIK: Will the Minister of Tribal Affairs be pleased to state: a. the steps taken by Government to aid the tribal and forest dwelling communities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic; b. whether Government has undertaken any study to learn about the ground reality of the tribal communities; c. if so, the details thereof; d. the steps taken by Government to build health care infrastructure in tribal areas; and e. the steps taken by Government to address the loss of livelihood from Minor Forest Produce by tribals and forest dwellers? ANSWER MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRIBAL AFFAIRS (SMT. RENUKA SINGH SARUTA) (a) & (e) A team of officers have been constituted by the Ministry to prepare the roadmap and take necessary measures for implementation/realization of initiatives to restore growth in the economy after the Covid-19 Pandemic. On request of this Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs has vide Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 16/04/20 issued guidelines aiming to relax the provisions of lockdown for Collection, harvesting and processing of Minor Forest Produce(MFP)/ Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) by STs and other forest dwellers in forest areas across the country. The Ministry also revised the minimum support price (MSP) for minor forest produce, offering much-needed support to tribal gatherers in view of the exceptional and very difficult circumstances prevailing in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. To provide a fillip to the Income generating activities of tribals through MFP Procurements, revised MSP for MFP guidelines were issued on May 1 2020, which increased the MSP prices of the MFPs and helped in providing higher incomes for the tribal gatherers. Moreover, on May 26, 2020, the Ministry also added 23 new items under the MSP for MFP list taking the total number of MFPs under the scheme to 73. These items include agricultural and horticultural produce collected by tribal gatherers. The COVID response team of this Ministry formulated a COVID-19 pandemic response plan for Scheduled Tribe livelihood and Health. The same has been approved by the Secretary, Tribal Affairs and is already circulated among various stakeholders for necessary action. States/UTs have been asked to utilize the funds from State TSP as well as submit a comprehensive proposal on these lines under various schemes of this Ministry.The steps included in the response plan are as under: I. Provision of Community Kitchen in ST areas (PVTG dominated Gram Panchayat) II. Ensuring supply of ration III. Basic financial support through DBT IV. Operationalization of already sanctioned VDVKs on mission mode (1126 VDVKs in 21 States and 1 UT) V. Assessment of stock of MFPs and Non-MFPs available with SHGs and finding markets for these products through TRIFED. VI. Development of Online Platform for procurement, sale and supply chain management of tribal produce at remunerative prices for the tribal producers, tribal farmers and MFP gatherers. VII. Improving village level water availability. VIII. Cultivation of early and late varieties of vegetables IX. Small goat rearing unit, mini-layer unit, fishery kits for fisherman, mushroom cultivation and bee-keeping, etc X. Self employment training and Bank linkage XI. Skill development of youth XII. Infrastructure creation and employment generation through construction work of EMRS XIII. Support towards Creation of Isolation/Quarantine Facilities in scheduled tribe areas (Gap filling). (b) & (c) In recent study done by IIT Delhi, in 177 tribal dominated districts with population more than 25%, less than 3% of the population has been detected as corona positive. So far, there has been no report of major outbreak of the disease in tribal areas which might be a cause for concern. (d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs in collaboration with Ministry of Rural Development has done mapping of sectoral gaps down to the level of Gram Panchayat & village. The data has been shared with all States who have been asked to work out strategies for mitigating sectoral gaps at village level including in the field of healthcare. This Ministry has also prepared a Tribal Health Action Plan which was shared with NITI Aayog, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, AYUSH and States in November 2019. There have been few rounds of discussion on this plan with NITI and MoHFW and a joint VC was also called of State Tribal Secretaries and Health Secretaries with Secy Health and Secy Tribal Affairs with their officers. In order to have updated data on the Health Infrastructure and manpower gaps in 177 tribal districts, MoTA has developed swasthya portal ( wherein data from MoHFW and WCD and from district is being captured. *****