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States diverting funds meant for Dalits’ welfare

The Delhi government may have invited sharp criticism over the diversion of R744 crore funds meant for Scheduled Castes’ — or Dalits’ — welfare to the Commonwealth Games over five years, but many states have routinely been guilty of flouting norms when it comes to earmarking funds for Dalits.

Planning Commission guidelines mandate that each state allocate funds for the development of Scheduled Castes in proportion to their populations in their annual plan, and place the allocations under a separate budget head. This is technically called the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP).

However, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment expressed concern in 2008-end that Kerala, Bihar and Rajasthan had not earmarked any funds specifically for Scheduled Castes’ development. The scale of funds Dalits may have missed out on can be gauged from the fact that the Dalit population of the three states is 9.8 per cent, 15.7 per cent and 17.2 per cent, respectively.

This violation of Planning Commission guidelines was happening at a time when Delhi was indulging in the said diversion, which has made the new Scheduled Caste Commission chairman P.L. Punia condemn the diversion “if” it has actually taken place.  

The same parliamentary panel said that Andhra Pradesh with an SC population of 16 per cent had allocated just 7 per cent of funds for SC development, Himachal Pradesh with an SC population of 24 per cent just 11 per cent and Punjab with an SC population of about 29 per cent just 26 per cent.

“We regularly take up such matters with states and ask them to ensure compliance,” said a Social Justice Ministry official.

In 2006-07, the amount actually allocated for SCSP for 14 states and Union territories across India was R3,223 crore less than what it should been as per their SC populations, meaning it was R21,461 crore instead of the required R 24,684 crore.

For the previous two years, the corresponding deficit in allocation was R5,688 crore and R5,591-crore, respectively.    

The government has told the Rajya Sabha that the percentage of funds allocated for SCs by all states and Union territories was just 11.2 per cent in 2005-06 and 12.9 per cent in 2006-07. It came up to a more respectable 15.8 per cent in 2007-08. Ideally, it should be equal to the SC population of the nation, which is 16.2 per cent.

COURTESY:HINDUSTAN TIMES, OCT 16/10

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