The latest annual report by the Scheduled Caste Commission has found that almost all states have failed to honour their budgetary commitments toward the SC community. It’s learnt that in its first such audit, the commission examined the 2012-13 budget of 26 states and found that funds spent on “SC-specific” scheme was only a tiny fraction of the total allotted under the SC Special Plan (SCSP). The report is yet to be tabled in Parliament. “The expenditure on SC-specific schemes is just a small fraction of the total allocation to SCSP across the country,” P L Punia, SC Commission chairperson.
The Centre’s guidelines, specified in the budget, state that various ministries and departments have to earmark funds under the SCSP, at least in proportion to the community’s population in states. According to Census 2011, the SC community constitutes 16.6 per cent of the country’s population.
Of the Rs 80,310 crore the 26 states allotted to SCSP schemes in 2012-13, when the UPA government was in power at the Centre, Rs 61,480 crore was spent. However, of this amount only Rs 9,920 crore, or just 12 per cent of the total allocation, was spent on SC-specific schemes and the rest was diverted to other schemes, the commission found. However, the commission is blamed for “faulty auditing”. The Central guidelines state that “only those schemes should be included under SCSP which ensure direct benefits to individuals or families belonging to SCs”. “SCSP funds are meant for SCs only, but are diverted to other areas,” said Punia.
The commission’s audit focused mainly on allocation and expenditure, and the gap between the two. Consider these:
- Funds allotted for SCSP by 19 of 26 states were, in proportion, less than the SC community’s population there.
- On expenditure, the commission found that none of the 26 states spent even half the funds under the SCSP account on “SC-specific schemes”. Just 14 states spent more than 10 per cent of the total spent funds under the SCSP on “SC-specific schemes”. Six others, including Gujarat, UP and Bihar, spent less than 20 per cent funds on SC-specific schemes. Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Odisha were among the worst performers.
- There is a wide gap between funds allotted and money spent on SC schemes. For instance, Punjab tagged 28.85 per cent of the state budget under SCSP but spent just 4.81 per cent of that allocation on SC-specific schemes.
“There are general schemes and there are SC-specific schemes. The SC commission has not correctly defined the funds meant for the SC-specific schemes. Our funds are reaching the SCs and benefitting the community,” said N K Aswal, additional chief secretary, SC & ST Development, Chhattisgarh.
K D Kapadia, director, Gujarat SC Welfare department, said: “In our state, the SC population is scattered. Many villages have more than 250 members in the SC segment. The schemes implemented in the areas surrounding these villages should be considered under SCSP. In urban areas, many wards have a significant population of SCs. Urban Local Bodies provide many facilities i.e., street lights, overhead water tanks, roads, footpaths, drinking water, drainage, schools, community toilets, dispensaries, etc., in such wards. These should be included in outlay for SCSP.”
So far the issue is the hot topic of discussion and remains unresolved.
By – Nikita Goel