The group of ministers (GoM) set up by the chief minister to submit a report on the demand of six ethnic communities in Assam to be included under the Scheduled Tribe category will submit its report by October 30.
The GoM, which is headed by the state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, met representatives of the communities on Friday, a day after holding discussions with groups opposed to expanding the list of STs in the state.
Koch Rajbongshi, Chutia, Moran, Tai Ahom, Mottock and the tea tribe are the communities seeking the ST status. Some of the communities are now categorised as other backward classes (OBCs).
The GoM was formed in January 2019 after the Centre asked for details on communities that should be granted ST status as it plans to include more communities under the category as per the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill.
Sarma said there will be no more formal consultations with the communities on the matter. He said “60% of the issues” have been sorted.
“Many issues have been resolved. Our mandate was to submit the final report to the Centre, which we will do on or before October 30,” he said, according to media reports. Further action will be based on what the Centre decides based on the report, he said.
The Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam is, however, opposed to the ST list being expanded saying it would affect the rights enjoyed by those currently on the list. It has said that the government should explore other means to cater to the demands of the groups seeking the ST status.
The scheduled tribes in Assam are categorised as those belonging to the plains and hills. As of February 2019, there are 14 STs (Plains) and 15 STs (Hills) in the state. In addition, the state also has 16 scheduled caste communities.