The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed that a total of 58,843 Sri Lankan and 72,312 Tibetan refugees have been living in India.
In its recently submitted annual report for 2020-21, the MHA said that as on January 1,2021, there were 58,843 Sri Lankan refugees staying in 108 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu and 54 in Odisha.
Besides, around 34,135 refugees are staying outside the camps, registered with the state authorities in Tamil Nadu.
Pending repatriation, certain essential relief facilities are provided to them on humanitarian grounds. These facilities include shelter in camps, cash doles, subsidised ration, clothing, utensils, medical care and educational assistance. The entire expenditure is incurred by the state government and is subsequently reimbursed by the Centre to the state. An amount of Rs 1,154 crore has been spent by the Centre for providing relief and accommodation to these refugees during the period between July, 1983 and December 31,2020.
The Ministry also said that around 3,04,269 Sri Lankan refugees have entered India in various phases between July, 1983 and August 2012. The Centre’s approach is to grant relief on humanitarian grounds with the ultimate objective to repatriate them back to Sri Lanka. Relief is given pending such repatriation.
While 99,469 refugees have been repatriated to Sri Lanka up to March, 1995, there has been no organised repatriation after March,1995, some refugees have gone back to Sri Lanka or left for other countries on their own.
Similarly, as per the latest census 2019 conducted by Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC), the population of Tibetan refugees in India as on December 31,2020 was 72,312 wherein the majority of these refugees have settled themselves, either through self employment or with Government’s assistance under agricultural and handicrafts’ schemes in different states of the country.
Major concentration of the Tibetan refugees is in Karnataka-21,353, Himachal Pradesh-14,973, Arunachal Pradesh-4,759, Uttarakhand- 4,828, West Bengal-3,079, and Union Territory of Ladakh-6,987.
The MHA also said that the rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees is almost complete and only one residuary housing scheme is at various stages of implementation in the State of Uttarakhand.
In order to bring about uniformity with respect to extending various facilities by the Central Government and the state governments to the Tibetan refugees settled in different parts of the country, MHA has issued the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014.
The Government of India has sanctioned a scheme of providing grant-in-aid of Rs 40 crore to His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s CTRC over a period of five years commencing from 2015-16 to 2019-20 to meet the administrative and social welfare activities expenses of 36 Tibetan Settlement offices located in different States of the country and the entire amount of 40 crore has already been released, the Union Home Ministry said.
Tibetan refugees began pouring into India in the wake of the flight of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the year 1959 from Tibet. The Government of India decided to give them asylum as well as assistance towards temporary settlement. Care has been taken to retain their separate ethnic and cultural identity.