Utilisation of SC-ST funds under scanner

Sunita Aron
(Lucknow, March 15)

THE HIGH-PROFILE Governors' Committee has sought details from all States of the funds (including the central component) spent on the welfare of SC/ST during the last 53 years. It has also hired the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to study their utilization, at least in the three States of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.

The committee will submit its report, which will include the TISS findings, to the President next month.

In many States, senior officials had expressed ignorance about the Centre's ambitious Special Component Plan for the SC/ST and the Prevention of Atrocities on SC/ST Act, during their meetings with the members of the Governors Committee.

The seven-member Governors Committee, split into two groups, is currently touring Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. One of the most vocal committee member of the group, Suraj Bhan, Governor of Himachal Pradesh, on Tuesday said, the findings of TISS would reveal where all the money had actually gone.

While expressing his inability to share the committee's recommendations (to which final touches will be given at the Bangalore meet on March 22-23), Mr Bhan said, a huge 43 crore acre of land in the country was lying waste.

"If only 12 crore acre of this land is distributed among Dalits, about four crore families could be made self-sufficient in just two years," he said

Though Punjab and Haryana do not have spare land, much could be done in MP, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, he said.

Among other recommendations is the constitution of a leather board on the pattern of the Coir Board and Khadi Board. Referring to their visit to Agra on way to Lucknow, Mr Bhan said, "Land has been acquired but not distributed, shops have been constructed but are lying locked. It was an eye-opener".

Schemes for Dalits shot through with lacunae: Alexander LUCKNOW, March 14 (UNI)

The seven-member committee of governors set up to review the performance of welfare schemes for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the country is unhappy with the contents as well the implementation of such schemes. The committee, ordered to be set up by President K R Narayanan, is yet to prepare its final report, but feels that the assistance package for SC/ST needs to be strengthened, Maharashtra Governor and Committee Chairman P C Alexander told reporters at the Raj Bhawan here.

A review of the existing welfare schemes was the need of the hour as they have inherent weaknesses to invite improper implementation, he added. Mr Alexander, along with Himachal Pradesh Governor Suraj Bhan and Kerala Governor S C Kang was here to review the implementation of the Special Component Plan (SCP), a scheme for Dalits. He has held several meetings with state chief minister Rajnath Singh and other senior officers of the state in this regard.

The other members of the committee are touring states to study welfare schemes and their impact on the target groups. Committee members would tour the entire country to study SC/ST schemes, and will meet next week in Bangalore to compile findings, he added.

After that, it would meet in Mumbai to study the draft of the report, likely to be submitted to Mr Narayanan by the end of April. The Maharashtra Governor said the preliminary study had put a question mark on the effectiveness of schemes meant for SC/STs.

Contrary to the common belief that poor implementation was to blame, the committee found that inherent weaknesses in the schemes was more cause for concern, he added.

Replying to a question, Mr Alexander said there were about 300 to 400 SC/ST welfare schemes in the country, but even the target group was unaware of them.

The number of schemes could be reduced after modifications in the existing acts, he pointed out.

The Committee was of the view that benefits of the schemes were not percolating to the target group. Years after the launching of these schemes, the lot of Dalits had not improved at the pace it should have, Mr Alexander said.

''I have no hesitation in stating that the lot of SCs and STs in the country is still very backward, educationally and socially,'' he added. The Maharashtra Governor said the study had also found that welfare schemes should differ from state to state, and sometimes even in areas within the state.

The study specially focusses on Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, where the population largely constitutes SCs, and Orissa where tribals were seen in large numbers.

Mr Alexander, however, declined to provide details of the findings in UP, saying the comprehensive report would say it all. Implementation of Dalit welfare schemes in the state was in the news recently, after then Governor Suraj Bhan questioned the bureaucracy about it.

Referred by:Balram Sampla
Published on: March 16, 2001
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