Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Tribal Affairs
19 NOV 2021 12:33PM by PIB Delhi
National Conference on Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) organised to celebrate 25th year of PESA as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

In the context of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the week from 15th to 22nd November, 2021 has been assigned as Iconic Week to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. One of the themes of Amrit Mahotsav is the ‘whole of Government approach’ and ‘Jan Bhagidari’. Ministry of Tribal Affairs has planned several activities during this period both at the National as well as the State Level.To start with this iconic week,  Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated Birsa Munda Tribal Freedom Fighter Museum, Ranchi, Jharkhand. The Government also announced to celebrate 15th November every year as “Janjatiya Gaurav Divas”.   

The Ministries of Tribal Affairs and  Panchayati Raj in collaboration with the and the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, organised a ‘National Conference on the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA)’ on 18th November, 2021 at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, to celebrate 75 years of progressive India & commemorate the 25th year of enactment of PESA.  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. The Governor of Maharashtra Sh. Bhagat Singh Koshyari, graced the National Conference virtually and addressed the participants.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor of Maharashtra, shared his experience of working for tribal community.  He said that tribals have amazing talent and skills and are good artisans, craftsmen and are adept in making handicrafts.  The need is to recognize their unique practices which protect environment.   He said that PESA is an important Act for the welfare of the tribal community and asked the officers and public representatives to go to the tribal areas, understand their problems at the grassroots level. He said that while preserving the culture of the tribal communities, 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. He highlighted various activities undertaken under PESA in Maharashtra resulting in economic empowerment of tribals.  

Shri Arjun Munda said that the tribal communities live in hilly and forest areas which are source of rivers and provide oxygen.  They use natural resources since time immemorial without disturbing ecological system. There is a need to safeguard interests and rights of the Scheduled Tribes, as provided by the Constitution, without compromising and disturbing their traditional culture, heritage, identity & rights in a coordinated manner so that they can move ahead and excel in their lives. He emphasized on the welfare of tribal communities by convergence of Schemes of various ministries under Schedule Tribe Component.   

Addressing the National Conference, Shri Giriraj Singh stressed that 4 States i.e., Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha should frame PESA Rules and start implementing them soon as done by other 6 States. He advised that the experiences of 6 States which are implementing PESA Rules should be shared with other States. He 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. 

Government of India has enacted PESA in 1996 and Forest Rights Act in 2006, which are meant for empowering tribal communities. PESA also been promulgated to recognize the role of the Gram Sabha and the community in these areas, mainly comprising tribal populations. 

Sh. Anil Kumar Jha, Secretary, Tribal Affairs in his address, said that FRA and PESA were framed to empower tribal communities and forest dwellers. He said that the Forest Rights Act and Rules provide for the post rights recognition activities to be undertaken for the holistic development of the right holders. 

Sh. Sunil Kumar, Secretary Panchayti Raj said that it is for the first time that such a joint conference by 2 key Ministries has been held with States to discuss issues concerning tribals for their economic development and empowerment. 

Sh. K.S.Sethi, Joint Secretary  Ministry of Panchayti Raj and Dr Naval Jit Kapoor Jt. Secy, Ministry of Tribal Affairs discussed  ‘Resource Framework in PESA States’ and asked all States to prepare village level plan based on gap analysis ensuring utilization of Central and State STC funds of Rs.2.5 lakh crore annually so that tribal communities benefit from various schemes of Central and state Government.  

The National Conference saw participation from Principal Secretaries and officers of State Panchayti Raj and Tribal welfare department from all ten PESA States i.e., Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana. Civil Society Organisations/NGOs working towards empowerment of the Scheduled Tribes had also participated in the Conference. DG National Institute of Rural Development, DG Indian Institute of Public Administration, Officers from Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Panchayati Raj shared their views. Principal Secretaries to  Governors of PESA States also joined the conference through the virtual mode.