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Modi govt allocates 1% of UPA budget to "rehabilitate" manual scavengers in 2017-18: Govt of India official

BE: Budget Estimates; RE: Revised Estimates
By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation, PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd), who is member of the National Monitoring Committee for Education of SCs, STs and Persons with Disabilities, has said that as against the UPA budget of 2013-14, when Rs 557 crore for provided for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers, the Government of India budget provides “less than 1% of it.”
Former secretary, ministry of welfare, Government of India, Krishnan says, the “neglect of the safai karmacharis” (manual scavengers) could be seen to have begun in 2014-15, when the NDA came to power. Thus, just about Rs 47 crore was spent in 2014-15, or merely 10% of the 2014-15 budget estimate (BE) provision of Rs. 439.04 crore.”
“This neglect”, says Krishnan, “worsened in 2015-16 when the revised estimate (RE) was only Rs 10.01 crore compared to the BE of Rs. 470.19 crore.”
Krishan underlines, “The gross under-utilization in 2015-16 RE was taken as the base for 2016-17 BE and a mere Rs10 crore was provided. Even this has been grossly under-utilized as seen from the 2016-17 RE of Rs 1.00 crore.”
Worse, he says, “In 2017-18 the BE has been further halved with a paltry provision of Rs 5.00 crore.”
According to Krishan, the “reduced outlay for self-employment scheme of liberation and rehabilitation of safai karmacharis … is specifically implemented for one category of scheduled castes (SCs)” who form “about 10% of the total SC population.”
The reduction, he says, has come about despite the fact that “successive governments have accepted the liberation and rehabilitation of safai karmacharis as a priority programme.”
Thus, Krishnan states, “An Act was passed in 1993, namely, the Employment of Manual Scavengers & Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, which was substituted by another and stronger Act, namely, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.”
However, he regrets, “The outlay for this scheme is at variance with the national policy accepted by successive governments of the past and present and the purpose of the important legislation of 2013 and the sympathy for ‘scavengers’ expressed from time to time by successive ruling parties and their leaders.”
Arguing in his paper “Budget 2917-18 and the Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes (SCP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TsP): The History of Neglect and Casualness over the Last Many Years Across Different Governments Continues”, distributed through a Dalit media network, Krishnan says, overall, too, the total amount of allocation for the welfare of SCs in the present Budget, Rs 52,392.55 crore, works out to be just 2.44% of the total expenditure.
While it is “better” than the previous budget when the “total amount of allocations for SCs in BE 2016-17 was Rs. 38,832.63 crore, which worked out to be 1.96% of the total budget expenditure, it nevertheless shows the “casual attitude towards SCs and … their developmental needs.”
Pointing out that SC population of India is 16.6%, Krishnan wonders, against this backdrop, how could commentators in the media went out of the way “to portray this as a great sop for the SCs as part of vote-bank politics in the context of the current series of elections to the state assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab etc.”
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Download full paper HERE

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