Friday, April 25, 2014

Refusing to make it mandatory, Gujarat government "fails to spend" Rs 10,000 crore meant for Dalits

By Our Representative
Two senior Ahmedabad-based Dalit rights activists – Kirit Rathod of Navsarjan Trust and Vasudev Charupa of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) – have alleged that the Gujarat government has “failed” to spend a whopping Rs 10,008.89 crore since 2001-02 for the welfare of the state’s scheduled caste (SC) population. In a statement, the two said, “We have calculated this on the basis of (1) refusal to budget funds for the Dalits in proportion to the SC population, as required by Planning Commission, and (2) failure to spend even the allocated funds under the SC sub-plan of the budget.”
Claiming to have got the details on the basis of an application filed under the right to information (RTI) Act, the activists said that between 2001-02 and 2013-14, a total of Rs 11,115.6 crore was spent under the SC sub-plan as against the budgeted allocation for SCs of Rs 14,805.3 crore, which means that Rs 3,689.69 crore “remained idle.” Giving year-wise details, they added, the worst spending was in the last financial year (2013-14), when Rs 1,389.05 crore remained unspent as against the allocation of Rs 2,637.41 crore.
Suggesting this was just 47.08 per cent of the total allocation made under the SC sub-plan, the activists said, in rest of the years, anywhere between 0.22 per cent (2005-06) to 32.75 per cent (2001-02) amount meant for SCs remained unspent. In 2012-13, as against the allocation of Rs 2,849.32 crore, the actual spending was Rs 2,440.93 crore, or 85.67 per cent. In 2011-12, the spending was 75.68 per cent (Rs 1,577.14 crore against 2,084.04 crore), and in 2010-11 it was 88.21 per cent (Rs 1174.75 crore against 1331.08 crore).
The activists contended that the “poor spending” took place despite the fact that the allocation was not budgeted in proportion to the SC population of Gujarat, as required by Planning Commission. Charupa told Counterview, “The Planning Commission in 2006, in an advisory, had said that all governments should budget funds equal to the proportion of the SC population under an exclusive budgetary head called code 789 (and code 796 for scheduled tribes), so that all government departments mandatorily spend them for SCs (and STs).”
“While 10-odd states have implemented the advisory, at least two – Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – have promulgated a law which mandates their governments to allocate funds equal to the proportion of the SC and ST population”, Charupa, who analysed state budgets, said, adding, “As for Gujarat, not only its allocation is less than the proportion of the SC, there is no effort to rectify the situation. In fact, in the RTI reply, Gujarat’s social justice and empowerment department told us it is not aware of the code’s existence.”
The result is that, according to the activists, as against the SC population of seven per cent, the real allocation has been quite less. Thus, in 2013-14, the allocation for SCs was Rs 4.84 per cent of the total budget, in 2012-13 it was 5.77 per cent, in 2011-12 it was 5.10 per cent, in 2009-10 it was 5.47 per cent, in 2008-09 it was 4.48 per cent, and in 2007-08 it was 3.53 per cent. “As a result, according to our calculation, between 2007-08 and 2013-14, Rs 6,319 crore less amount was allocated against what should have been budgeted”, Charupa said.
Rathod told Counterview, failure to put under the 798 code of the finance department does not make it mandatory to spend the amount meant for SCs. The result, he said, is that funds for Ambedkar Bhawan in each taluka just lapse. In 2012-13, Rs 3 crore was decided upon for the Ambedkar Bhawan project, but the finance department refused to allocate funds. In 2013-14, Rs 6 crore was decided upon, but the finance department did not allocate funds. In 20014-15, a similar application is pending with the government.

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