Even four decades after focused intervention for development of 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Odisha, the literacy rate among a section of primitive tribes remained below 40%.
Responding to a query on PVTGs in the State Assembly recently, ST and SC Development, Minorities and Backward Class Welfare Department Minister Jagannath Saraka said average literacy rate among the population covered by 17 micro projects was 33.38%.
The 17 micro projects were initiated in various interior pockets of Odisha during different plan periods for the socioeconomic uplift of the PVTGs on priority basis and to preserve their culture.
Mr. Saraka said ₹314.28 crore in total has been received for the development of 82,808 people belonging to PVTGs over a 10-year period between 2009-10 and 2018-19.
In case of the Bonda tribe in Malkangiri district and Paudi Bhuyan in Sundargarh district, the literacy rate could not be lifted beyond 20%. Only 14.10% of the 6,676 Bonda tribals in Malkangiri are literate and only 18.03% literacy could be achieved among Paudi Bhuyans in Sundargarh. This, despite the fact that the Bonda Development Agency was set up as far back as 1976-77 and the Paudi Bhuyan Development Agency in Khutagaon in 1978-79.
The literacy rate has remained between 20% and 30% in the case of five PVTGs.
The economic profile of PVTGS also presents a gloomy picture. The decades-long focused intervention in 541 villages has not been able to pull out people from poverty. Up to 80.95% of PVTG households continue to languish below the poverty line. In case of the Didayi, Dongria Kondh and Paudi Bhuyan, the BPL household percentage has been estimated at above 90%; 97.74% Didayi households are BPL while it is 96.33% in case of Dongria Kondhs.
Despite decades-old implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 67.23% Dongria Kondhs, who reside in the Niyamgiri hill ranges of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, are landless. More than half (56.25%) of Didayi families are also landless.
Odisha is home to the most diverse tribal population in the country with 62 Scheduled Tribe communities living in the State. The 13 PVTGs mostly reside inthe hinterland.