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Union budget’s numbers game in the 'increased' allocation for Dalits, Adivasis

By Umesh Babu, Ena Zafar, Raju Sarkar, Vibhor Tak* 

The Union Government has allocated an additional budget for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) under the Special Component Plan (SCP) and for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP). These figures are shown under Statement 10A and Statement 10B respectively.
The allocation of Rs 1,26,259 crore in the year 2021-22 for the SC has increased to Rs 1,39,956 crore from the revised budget and again increased to Rs 1,42,342 crore in the year 2022-23 i.e. 3.61% of the entire budget of the government.
Similarly, the budget allocated for STs has increased to Rs 87,473 crore in the revised budget from Rs 79,942 crore in the year 2021-22 and again increased to Rs 89,265 crore in the year 2022-23; which is 2.26% of the entire budget of the government (click here for details of allocation and expenditure in other years).
Broadly speaking, we can call it an increased budget. However, there are some realities behind this budget, for example: In which heads the money is allocated? Is the budget reaching the people? If not, then where is this money going?
The Agriculture Ministry has allocated Rs 20,472 crore for the SCs in the year 2022-23, out of which Rs 2,667 crore has been earmarked for the Fasal Bima Yojana. Similarly, Rs 1,381 crore is allocated for ST in this scheme.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has reported that the Government of India (GoI) does not have the data of the SC/ST beneficiaries about the money allocated under this scheme in the previous years. Hence it cannot be confirmed how many SC/STs have benefited. The only confirmation is that the budget for the welfare of SC/ST is given to the agriculture insurance companies (AICs) every year, which is Rs 4,048 crore in the year 2022-23.
“3.3.9 Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers' Welfare allocated and released Rs 2,381.33 crore specifically for coverage of SC and ST farmers under these schemes. However, AIC did not maintain separate data on financial support to these categories. Similarly, AIC did not maintain data on women farmers under the schemes even though the NCIP guidelines of 2013-14 required special efforts to ensure maximum coverage of SC/ST and women category of farmers, and DAC&FW had asked AIC (December 2011) to maintain such information.” (CAG Report No. 7 of 2017, Page 22)
The Higher Education Department has allocated Rs 3,889 crore for the SC year 2022-23, out of which Rs 495 crore is allocated for the assistance to the Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs). Similarly, Rs 240 crore is allocated from ST budget in this scheme. Regarding the money allocated under this scheme in the previous years, the report of the Comptroller General of India says that most of the seats for PG courses in these IITs remain vacant and in PhD 75% SC and 95% ST seats remain vacant in the course.
This means that in the coming financial year 2022-23, these institutions will use Rs 735 crore from SC/ST budget share, but they will not allow these students to take admission in higher education easily.
“(i) The percentage of shortfall in enrolment of SC students in post-graduate courses was significantly higher in IITGN (30 per cent), IITH (25 per cent) and IIT Mandi (23 per cent). The shortfall in ST students was high in all the eight IITs ranging between 7 per cent (IIT Ropar) and 69 per cent (IITGN).
“(ii) The percentage of shortfall in enrolment of PhD courses was very high in respect of ST category ranging from 73 per cent (IITH) to 100 per cent (IITJ). In respect of SC students also, the shortfall was significantly higher (more than 50 per cent) in all IITs except IITH and IITBBS where it was 25 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. Under the OBC category, the shortfall was high in IITGN (37 per cent), IIT Ropar (36 per cent) and IIT Mandi (32 per cent).”
(CAG Report No. 20 of 2021, Page 42)

Anomalies in budget allocation for SC/ST

In the audit of budget for the year 2016-17, it was found that there are many departments, which do not have any plan for SC/ST, but they use their budget in large amounts. The neglect is to such an extent that CAG had asked for rectification of such budget formulations/making at least four times but the Ministry has not taken any cognizance of the same.
It is not possible to talk about all the ministries, but the Ministry of Tribal Welfare which is the nodal ministry for the welfare of the tribals and the manner in which it neglects the accounting procedures while preparing the budget itself makes many things clear by itself.
“Audit noticed that out of the total provision of Rs. 1,250 crore, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs released Rs 1,195.03 crore as ‘Special Central Assistance for Tribal Sub Plan’ in the year 2016-17 and booked this under the minor head ‘796-Tribal Area Sub Plan’ in Grant No 89 pertaining to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The same was required to be provisioned and booked under the minor head ‘794-Special Central Assistance for Tribal Sub Plan’ as prescribed in the extant instructions.
“The matter had also been pointed out in the CAG’s Report No 1 on Union Government Accounts for the financial year 2012-13, 2013-14, Report No. 50 for 2014-15 and Report No.34 for 2015-16.
“In response to Report No.34 for 2015-16, the Ministry had assured (July 2016) that the minor head ‘794’ would be opened in the DDG for the year 2017-18 for Special Central Assistance for Tribal-Sub-Plan.
“Scrutiny of DDG for the year 2017-18, however, revealed that an amount of Rs. 1,350.00 crore had been obtained as provision for ‘Special Central Assistance for Tribal Sub-Schemes’ under Major Heads- 2225, 2552 and 3601 in minor head ‘796’ instead of ‘794’.
“The Ministry stated (August 2017) that the matter has been taken with the Ministry of Finance for opening of a new Minor head 794 so that expenditure under the Scheme Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Scheme could be booked under the distinct minor head of 794, as contained in general directions to the List of Major and Minor Head of Account.”
(Report of the CAG on Union Government Accounts 2016-17, Page 132)

Welfare of Safai Karamcharis?

The responsibility of Safai Karmacharis’ welfare rests with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the nodal ministry for the welfare of SC. This Ministry has not uploaded its Detailed Demand for Grants (DDG) on its website from the year 2019-20 onwards. Therefore, people do not know the details of the budget presented by them in the House. Their DDG based data is available only till the year 2019-20 (click here for details).
Safai Karmacharis have suffered the most in the corona pandemic and have faced the most serious crisis regarding livelihood
According to these available figures, in the year 2016-17, Rs 9 crore was allocated for rehabilitation under self-employment, in which nothing was spent and the entire money lapsed. In the year 2017-18, Rs 4.5 crore was allocated and Rs 5 crore was spent. On the Ministry's website, DDGs are not available to track the expenditure figures for subsequent years.  
The figures which the Union government presents before the House in its Statement 10A, mentions two schemes related to Safai Karamcharis. Looking at one of the schemes “Scheme for Self-Employment and Rehabilitation” as this class has suffered the most in the corona pandemic and had the most serious crisis regarding livelihood. 
In the year 2020-21, Rs 110 crore was allocated for their rehabilitation under the self-employment scheme, out of which only Rs 16.60 crore was spent. In the year 2021-22, Rs 100 crore was allocated, which was reduced to Rs 43.31 crore in the revised budget (click here for details). There is a total provision of Rs 70 crore in the year 2022-23.
When the questions were asked in Parliament about the deaths of sanitation workers in the sewer, then from the answers several other questions arose which are necessary to be answered. Two annexures are given in answer to Lok Sabha Question No 261 dated February 04, 2020. Annexure-I contains the details of the states in which Safai Karamcharis have been identified and given one- time cash assistance at the rate of Rs 40,000 per person for rehabilitation till January 13, 2020. 
Annexure-II contains the details of the States which have given compensation to the families of the deceased sanitation workers after the orders of the Supreme Court. The states of Assam, Jharkhand and Odisha are named in Annexure-I, but not in Annexure-II: This means that no sanitation workers have died in these states.
In reply to Question No 256 dated November 19, 2019, Annexure-II details the compensation to be given to the families of deceased Safai Karamcharis in 36 States/Union Territories. If we consider the state of Delhi for example, then according to this description, till June 30, 2019, a total of 49 sanitation workers have died in sewer accidents in Delhi.
However, in response to question number 261 dated February 4, 2020, in Annexure-II, till 15 January 2020, a total of 89 sanitation workers have died in sewer accidents. This means that between June 30, 2019 and January 15, 2020 (approximately in seven months) within Delhi, 40 (89 - 49 = 40) sanitation workers died in sewer accidents.
It is not known if it is the truth but if it is, then the situation is very critical as for their rehabilitation, budget cuts are also happening within the self-employment scheme. The situation is more or less similar in other States as well.
Provisions made for them in the country's budget, and the reply to the questions placed in the house, are proof of naked truths of justice denial. Through the budget, the whole country is being told that the government follows the constitution and is friendly to the Dalits and Adivasis. But in reality all this is a game of numbers.
---
*With Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch

Comments

RESHAM LAL KLER said…
Great. Very precisely the comparative figure of various activities have been carried out/ shown.
It seems to me a BUISNESS MODEL, a political document made for selective identities.
To demagogue us ,in fact the usurper/supplant know our weaknesses one of them no 1 is Education,formal and our ancestors History.
This small step will help fruition under the guidance and patornship.
Highly commendable, Rev,Sir.

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