national human rights commision
The National Human Rights Commission of India Friday issued an advisory to the Centre and state governments, calling for protecting the human rights of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) across the country. The commission took cognisance of media reports about the increasing spread of the COVID-19 virus among several members of the tribal groups in various regions.
India is home to about 104 million Scheduled Tribes (STs), among whom 75 are marginalised and identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groupe (PVTGs) by the union government. According to the Census 2011, the population of these 75 PVTGs is less than one lakh.
In the advisory, the NHRC has pointed out that these groups have been struggling to protect themselves from extinction and the pandemic has aggravated their crises. In view of the surging COVID-19 infections across India, the NHRC has called on the authorities to protect the holistic human rights of the PVTGs.
“If COVlD-19 infects them, they will not be able to survive, which will be a great loss for the humanity and diversity of the human race,” the NHRC said in its statement.
The rights body has made some crucial recommendations to protect tribals groups from COVID-19 fallout. Some of the suggestions include frequent COVID-19 PCR testing campaigns at the doorstep of PVTGs along with prompt delivery of reports. Furthermore, the commission has urged to ensure vaccination of all PVTGs having a population of less than 50,000 in the next 60 days through the help of mobile medical teams and dedicated medical professionals including nurses and paramedics sent at their vicinities. The commission has further urged the state government/UTs to ensure free treatment of Covid-19 patients belonging to the PVTGs.
“Regular check on maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitation in the residential vicinity of PVTGs by the staff deputed shall be ensured,” the NHRC recommended.
The NHRC called for ensuring implementation of food and ration-based schemes from both the Centre and state governments for PVTGs along with the provision of doorstep delivery of free dry rations/food basket households of tribal groups.
Additionally, the commission urged the centre to ensure monthly cash entitlement and pension distribution through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for financial assistance.
Among other recommendations, the commission has stressed the need for setting up a 24 X 7 helpline in the district control room for addressing Covid-19 related concerns of the PVTGs.
In the statement, the Commission noted that a letter has been sent to Union Ministries of Tribal Affairs and Health & Family Welfare along with chief secretaries of states and administrators of UTs, urging them to implement the recommendations and report on the actions taken within four weeks.
In addition, the NHRC has directed the authorities to submit monthly reports on the measures taken to ensure the safety of PVTGs until the end of COVID-19.
“The District Magistrate (DM) shall be designated as the Nodal Officer for the implementation of this Advisory,” the commission added.