A draft Bill by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment advocates legislation to ensure implementation of Scheduled Castes Sub Plan/Tribal Sub Plan

To ensure that the existing Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) guidelines are enforced through a Central legislation, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has circulated a draft titled Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) Bill, 2013, for inter-ministerial suggestions.

The Ministry is concerned that instructions vis-à-vis the SCSP guidelines are not being followed in the absence of any legal enforcement and consequently the funds reserved for specific programmes are not being utilised. The SCSP and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) were introduced in the fifth five-year plan period as a means of eliminating the socio-economic deprivation faced by the SC and STs.

A senior official of the Ministry said there have been concerns about the funds marked for the schemes not being utilised or being diverted. “The legislation will help in ensuring that the earmarked funds are not diverted. We are also proposing to monitor the scheme through a web portal.”

The Narendra Jhadav taskforce that was set up in 2010 to review the implementation of the 2006 guidelines on the SCSP/TSP had also submitted that the policies had remained substantially unimplemented at both the Central and State level. It had also pointed out that there were hardly any departments and ministries that were showing their SCSP /TSP outlays under a separate budget head, and there was no transparency in its criteria.

The taskforce had recommended setting up of nodal units in all the ministries and departments that would have obligations to earmark funds for the categories.

The Ministry’s draft calls for earmarking and notifying a portion of the total plan outlay, proportionate as per the latest Census figures available to the Scheduled Castes population by the Planning Commission in the case of the Central government or the Planning Department in the case of the State Government, in every financial year.

These funds denoted as the SCSP Fund will be utilised only for supporting the sub plans appraised and approved by the nodal agency and cannot be accounted against the expenditure, if any, even in proportion to the Scheduled Castes benefited under the general schemes.

The draft Bill also calls for implementing ministries and departments to prioritise the development needs of the SCs in consultation with the primary stakeholders, design schemes that have potential to accelerate the development of the SCs and bridge the gaps in development in a time bound manner.

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