Govt to push grant of ST status to Pahari community: Mufti

Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Wednesday reiterated his government’s assurance to push the case for grant of ST (Scheduled Tribe) status to the Pahari community in the state.
He said the government will initiate effective measures for equitable and inclusive development of its people, in particular those underprivileged sections which live in far-flung and inaccessible areas. “The state cannot progress unless we take along people who have been striving hard for a level-playing field to get their fair share in state’s development,” he stated.
The Chief Minister made these observations while chairing the 13th Annual Meeting of the State Advisory Board for Development of Pahari-speaking people, here at SKICC this afternoon.
Besides Member Parliament and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, Minister for Rural Development, Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for CA&PD & Tribal Affairs, Ch. Zulfkar, Minister for Finance & Culture, Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Social Welfare & Forest, Bali Baghat, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister for PHE, I&FC, Sukhnandan Kumar, Minister of State for Health & Social Welfare, Aiesa Naqash and the Vice Chairman, State Advisory Board for Pahari-speaking people, Kuldeep Raj Gupta were present on the occasion.
Emphasizing upon filling up critical gaps in the development of Pahari-speaking people in the state, the Chief Minister said the government will provide equal opportunities for up-liftment of weaker sections of the society with special focus on education and health sectors. He also stressed upon bettering infrastructure facilities and augmenting human resource in the existing hostels at Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara districts.
Mufti Sayeed also ordered framing of a Committee that will choose the best possible persons to man the position of wardens so that hostels are run in a professional manner. He also announced enhancement of diet allowance from present Rs.50 to Rs.100 in favour of the students living in thesePahari hostels.
Endorsing the request of Mehbooba Mufti, the Chief Minister desired that two Model Schools on pilot basis, be set up in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar so that Pahari students have access to modern tools of e-learning.
Mehbooba Mufti, in her address, said the government is aware about the demand for ST status for Pahari community and is actively pursuing the matter with the Union Government. She also emphasized upon providing basic amenities to the people who, she said have been an epitome of secularism and peace in the state.
Bali Baghat, in his address, stated that Social Welfare Department had constituted a Committee to further examine the issue of grant of ST status on the advice of the Union Government. The Committee, he said has submitted its report and the case is being recommended to the Union government for its consideration.
The Chief Secretary informed the Chief Minister that a budgetary provision of Rs.19.50 crore has been earmarked for the board in the current fiscal. He assured the Chief Minister for monitoring so that the funds allocated for Pahari-speaking people are expended in full.
During the meeting, several members spoke and flagged various issues like grant of ST status, renovation of Pahari hostels, setting up of medical-aid centres and PG hostel facility at Jammu and Srinagar for the students. They also demanded a separate plan for Pahari-speaking people, on the analogy of Gujjar and Bakeral community.
Also present in the meeting were Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Principal Secretary, Finance, Navin Kumar Chaudhary, Administrative Secretaries of School Education, Social Welfare, Tribal Affairs, Animal Husbandry, PHE, I&FC, Director General, Information & PR, Secretary CA&PD and Secretary Law.
All the members of the State Advisory Board attended the meeting.