The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State meet on seat quota

Jamshedpur, Sept. 16: The BJP-led government in Jharkhand would convene an all-party meeting to discuss the Delimitation Commission's proposal to slash the number of Assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Chief minister Arjun Munda, who was in the city today to attend a function, said population and geographical factors should be taken into account before going ahead with the move.

'I have written a letter to the Centre in this regard and would soon convene an all-party meeting to seek their views on the issue. Although we haven't yet decided the exact date on which the meeting would take place, we are planning to convene it as soon as possible,' he said.

The commission, which has advocated reducing the number of reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes from 28 to 21, has created a furore, especially among tribal leaders who are thinking of moving the panel to review the proposal.

Yesterday, representatives of different social, political and ethnic organisations met to chalk out an action plan to protest what they termed as 'efforts to relegate the tribals to a minority in the state'.

The tribal leaders are also demanding reconstitution of the commission.

Munda said the government would adopt a democratic process in settling the issue. He said while the panel's decision is based on the 2001 census, it is stated in the Constitution that all reservation for Scheduled Tribes would take the 1971 census as the base year.

The 2001 census indicates that there has been a decrease in the percentage of tribals as compared to other communities in the state.

Replying to a query, Munda said of the 14 lakh tonnes of foodgrain demanded from the Centre, a consignment of about 6 lakh tonnes has reached the state. 'I have asked parliamentarians from the state to pursue the matter with the Union government so that the rest of the consignment reaches the state at the earliest.'

He said the state government has also approached the Centre for a grant of Rs 1,000 crore for early implementation of the ambitious project of constructing one lakh ponds in various districts.

The project is for generating employment opportunities 'for tribals and backwards', he said.

Later, speaking at a function in Chhotagovindpur, where he switched on power supply to residential areas of Chhotagovindpur and Karandih, benefiting about 30,000 people, Munda said the state government is committed to providing quality power to the people.

Earlier, the Jharkhand State Electricity Board used to supply power to these areas. JSEB signed an agreement with Jamshedpur Utilities Services Company, a cent per cent subsidiary of Tata Steel, on August 28 for purchase of 35 MVA (about 30 mw) of power exclusively for supply to residential areas of these two localities. The power would be supplied by Tata Power Limited.

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