Covid: NHRC issues advisory to ministries, states to ensure protection of tribal groups

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New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) The National Human Rights Commission has issued an advisory to two Union ministries and states and union territories to ensure the protection of human rights of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in view of reports about the spread of COVID-19 infection among several of their members, officials said on Friday.

Issuing the advisory, the commission has observed that many of the PVTGs have already been struggling against extinction and, 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 has issued an advisory to ensure protection of human rights of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), keeping in view the media reports about the spread of COVID-19 infection among several of them. As per the Census 2011 their population is less than one lakh,' it said in a statement.

The Commission, in a letter through its Secretary General Bimbadhar Pradhan to the secretaries of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, chief secretaries of states and administrators of UTs, has asked for the implementation of its recommendations in the advisory and sought action taken reports within four weeks, officials said.

Among about 104 million Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the country, there are 75 such groups, who are further marginalised and identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groupe (PVTGs) by the government of India. This is based on the existence of pre-agriculture level of technology, relative physical isolation, stagnant population, extremely low literacy, and a subsistence level of economy, the statement said.

'In this prevailing context of pandemic, it is imperative to issue an advisory for the protection of holistic human rights of the PVTGs and also keeping their deep-rooted health and socio-economic inequities and their naturally isolated habitation spread across inaccessible, far-flung, hilly and forested areas in view,' it added.

The secretary, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and the chief secretaries, administrators of the states and UTs shall submit monthly reports to the NHRC till the end of the COVID-19 with respect to the measures taken for implementation of this advisory, the Commission said.

In this regard, District Magistrates shall be designated as nodal officers for the implementation of this advisory. The DMs shall also get this advisory translated into the local language, dialect of the PVTGs and ensure its dissemination among them, the statement said.

Some of the important recommendations include conducting frequent RT-PCR testing drive at doorstep while ensuring prompt delivery of reports with priority to be given to the PVTGs addressing the concern of their persistent digital divide.

Ensuring vaccination of all the PVTGs having population less than 50,000 within 60 days by sending mobile medical teams; and deployment of dedicated team of doctors/nurses/paramedic staffs in nearby PVTGs vicinities; and ensuring that all expenses for treatment of Covid-19 patients belonging to the PVTGs are borne by the concerned state government/UTs, are among other recommendations. PTI KND AQS AQS

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