One Day National Conference on the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to celebrate 25th year of PESA Act, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

New Delhi : To celebrate 75 years of progressive India and commemorate 25th year of enactment of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA), the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in collaboration with Ministry of Tribal Affairs and National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj  organised a ‘One Day National Conference on the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA)’ as a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. The Conference was jointly inaugurated by Shri Giriraj Singh, Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Arjun Munda, Minister of Tribal Affairs, Shri Kapil Moreshwar Patil, Minister of State for Panchayati Raj and other dignitaries. Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of Maharashtra also joined the National Conference virtually and addressed the participants.

Addressing the National Conference, Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Shri Giriraj Singh said that six States namely Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Telangana have notified PESA Rules. The remaining four States namely Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha should also frame PESA Rules and start implementing them soon.  Shri Giriraj Singh said   both he and the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Shri Arjun Munda will also discuss this matter with the Governors, Chief Ministers and Ministers of these four States if required. He also requested the Governors of these States to take initiative in formulating PESA Rules by holding meetings with the Chief Ministers, Ministers and Departmental Secretaries. Shri Giriraj Singh said that the experiences of 6 States which are implementing PESA Rules should be shared with other States.

Shri Singh said that while preparing the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs should create a new model of development for the tribal community through convergence, keeping in mind the traditions of the tribal community adequate facilities should be provided to them.

Giriraj Singh said that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is very serious about the development of tribal areas. The budget of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which was Rs.4,000 crore during 2013-14, has increased to more than Rs 7,500 crore during 2021–22. The scholarship given to tribal students was Rs 978 crore during the year 2013–14, which has now increased to Rs. 2546 crore. These facts show that the Government of India is serious about improvement in day-to-day lives of the tribal community. The State Governments should also show their commitment and seriousness in this matter.

Addressing the participants of the National Conference, Shri Arjun Munda, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs said that the tribal communities have been using the resources naturally available since time immemorial, today the need is to safeguard and promote the interests and rights of the Scheduled Tribes as provided by the Constitution, so that they can move ahead and excel in their lives. It is important to preserve and promote tribal cultures, traditions and heritage in order to uplift the quality of people living in tribal areas.

Munda called upon the States to look at the tribal welfare from a national point of view while understanding the basic spirit of the Constitution along with local concerns and issues. He emphasized on the welfare of tribals by convergence of Schemes of Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Shri Munda also stressed on taking the cooperation of social and voluntary organizations in the welfare of tribals. He said that the officers responsible for implementation of the Schemes related to tribal development should rise above the technicalities and understand the basic spirit of the Constitution and do such work which will show the positive change on the ground.

On this occasion the Governor of Maharashtra, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari said that tribals have amazing talent and skills, the tribal are good artisans, craftsmen and are adept in making handicrafts, tribal community has potential and multiple talents and they are doing great things; the need is to recognize them and bring them forward with proper training. He said that PESA is an important Act for the welfare of the tribal community, the States should use it to bring them into the mainstream.

He said that the officers and public representatives should go to the tribal areas, understand their problems at the grassroots level. Shri Koshyari said that while preserving the culture of the tribal class, it is also necessary to show them the ray of development under rapidly changing scenario. Efforts have been made in this direction in many States, but this journey is necessary in future also.

Shri Koshyari informed that many works have been done under PESA in Maharashtra. The work of economic empowerment of tribals has also been done in Maharashtra. Empowerment of tribal class can also be done by proper exploitation of forest wealth.

The National Conference saw active participation from all the States with Scheduled Areas including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana. In addition, several NGOs which have been working towards the empowerment of the Scheduled Tribes also participated in the Conference. Ministry of Tribal Affairs and National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj also participated in the Conference in a very constructive manner. Session on Legislative and Administrative Framework under PESA was chaired by Director General, Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), New Delhi.

During the Conference three technical sessions on themes of ‘Legal and Administrative Framework under PESA’; ‘Resource Framework in PESA States’ and ‘Planning and Implementation of PESA – The Way Forward’ were held where States made a brief presentation on the respective themes.

The Conference was attended by Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Shri Anil Kumar Jha, Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Shri (Dr.) Chandra Shekhar Kumar, Additional Secretary, MoPR, Shri Khushwant Singh Sethi, Joint Secretary, MoPR along with Senior Officers from both the Ministries and State Governments. The live web-streaming of day-long National Conference was done through webcasting.