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Speakers at a roundtable yesterday called on the government to allocate more funds in the national budget for the development of indigenous people.

The allocation in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the indigenous people is too inadequate and that the tribal people living in plain land are more deprived than those living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in terms of allocation of funds, they said.

Research and Development Collective (RDC) in association with Oxfam-GB organised the roundtable on 'Budget and Indigenous People' at the National Press Club in the city.

Md Iftekhar Hossain, assistant professor of economics department of Dhaka University, and Sheikh Md Shahid Uddin Iskander, lecturer of health economics department, presented a research report on 'Allocation for Adivasis in the ADP-- A Macro Analysis' at the roundtable.

The report said that the allocation for the indigenous people under the ADP is only .40 percent of the total ADP and only 7.62 percent of the allocation or Tk 8 crore is earmarked for the tribal people living in plain land.

It recommended allocating more funds for the tribal people and utilising them in a planned way so that indigenous people of plain land are not deprived.

Speaking as the chief guest, Justice Golam Rabbani said, "The indigenous people participated in the liberation war along with the Bangalees; they did not commit any betrayal although some Bangalees did so. So, they deserve more attention for their development."

He called on the government to set up an 'Adivasi Foundation' for the welfare of tribal people and open a department in the universities on 'Adivasi studies'.

Prof Dr Abul Barkat called for constitutional recognition of the indigenous people and more allocations in the ADP for them.

The government, the people and the media should adopt a planned approach for their development, he added.

Snajida Akhter, a lecturer of women and gender studies at Dhaka University, said there should be separate allocation for the development of tribal women.

Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Adivasi Odhikar Andolon, Prof Dr MM Akash and RDC General Secretary Prof Mesbah Kamal also spoke.

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