Kerala Govt. Diverted Central Funds for SC/ST Welfare

(Special Story)
(By Mukundan C. Menon)

The Kerala Government had diverted a total amount of Rs. 256.81 crores allotted by the Union Government under various projects meant for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and spent for other expenditures during the six years of 1994-2000. This was revealed in the National Commission for SC and STs' fifth report for 1998-99 submitted to President K. R. Narayanan on March 4.

The Report said that Kerala Government had diverted 28 per cent of the total Central allotment for welfare of SCs and STs between 1994 April 1 and 2000 March 31. This include Rs. 39.67 crores under special projects between 1994-2000 and another Rs. 217.34 crores as special project assistance provided by the Union Government between 1995-2000. (Notably, the Kerala Government was headed by Congress-led UDF till May 1996 and by the CPM-led LDF thereafter till date).

The Commission Report also said that the welfare measures claimed to have undertaken by Kerala Government had failed to benefit the poorer social segments. Also, the number of reported atrocities against SCs and STs had increased from 805 in 1994 to 906 in 1998. Besides the anti-SC/ST atrocities, Kerala Government had also failed to prevent similar atrocities against Backward Communities, the Report charged.

The report added that these were identified when the Commission visited Kerala last year. The team members who conducted the enquiries in Kerala were Commission Chairperson Dilip Singh Bhuria, and Members Chellappan and Malathi Sinha.

The Commission report also cited the following revealing facts to counter Kerala Government's claims on protection of SC/STs : 1) Out of the total tribal students who appeared for SSLC examinations in the Tribal School of Attappadi, Palakkad district, only five per cent was passed; 2) The tribal school hostel here does not have basic facilities. Neither good teachers are available in the school nor special coaching was given to the students; 3) The number of unwed mothers among Attappadi tribals are increasing every years; 4) The state government had adopted a lukeworm attitude to provide basic facilities and protection of tribals in Attappadi; 5) It has not yet implemented the 1975 tribal land act; 6) The marginalised social segments are not getting adequate employment in public sector undertakings and establishments functioning with government's help; and 7) Majority of the atrocities committed against the weaker sections go unreported.

U.P. and M.P. top the list:

It is pertinent to note that this fifth report of the National Commission for SC and STs is most likely to meet the same fate of its previous one of not seeing light of the day. Since it cannot be officially released until it has been tabled in Parliament, the report and its recommendations will remain only as an academic exercise, without discussion or follow-up action generated out of its findings.

It is to be recalled that demands are now being raised that if for three months such Reports are not tabled and discussed in Parliament, the findings should be released to the public.

Alongwith the Fifth report, the Commission also presented two special reports on the implementation of the Provision of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which top the table relating to atrocities against SCs and STs respectively. These two states are respective governed by BJP and Congress. The Commission undertook special studies in certain selected districts in these two states to examine the declining trend in registration of cases of atrocities against SC/STs and the high percentage - often over 95 per cent of acquittals.

In Madhya Pradesh, it was traced to delaqy in lodging FIRs, false FIRs, contradictions in statements of complainants and witnesses, witnesses turning hostile, out of court compromise and settlement and lack of proper investigation and incompetence of prosecutors. It urged the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to take necessary measures to improve the implementation of the Acts and the Rules that guide them. The Commission has often in the past also voiced concern at the more or less stagnant budgetary provision that indicates the states failure to properly implement the Act.

Referred by:Mukundan C. Menon
Published on: March 6, 2001
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