Afshan Yasmeen

NGOs may be roped in to monitor implementation of projects

  • More old age and short stay homes planned
  • Social Welfare Department likely to be overhauled

    BANGALORE: More old age and short stay homes for senior citizens and distressed women, computer training for youth in slums, financial help to children of pourakarmikas and Group `D' employees who are doing professional courses and an employment scheme for youth from the weaker sections of society. These are some of the welfare measures being planned in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike's (BMP) budget for 2007-2008.

    The budget, which is likely to be presented in the coming week, may also announce a comprehensive policy to refurbish the civic body's Social Welfare Department. This department, known for its "lethargy" in implementing projects is likely to see an overhaul with more funds and strict monitoring, highly placed sources in the BBMP told The Hindu on Friday.

    To ensure proper and complete utilisation of funds, earmarked exclusively for the uplift of people belonging to Scheduled Caste, Schedule Tribe and other backward communities, the BBMP is likely to utilise the services of non-governmental organisations, the sources said.

    "The idea is to get reputed NGOs conduct a third party inspection of all projects implemented by this department," a top official from the Social Welfare Department said.

    There have been allegations in the past that officials have either not used the annual budgetary allocations or have diverted them for other purposes. As a result, crores of rupees meant for the welfare of the downtrodden have lapsed.

    In the last six years, schemes such as model houses for the weaker sections, aids for the disabled, financial assistance to meritorious students, health insurance, prevention of alcoholic addiction and self-employment schemes such as computer training, coaching in electrical wiring, driving, mobile phone repair and beautician courses have not been successful.

    Though the total budgetary provision by the civic body for the welfare of the downtrodden from April 2000 to March 2006 is Rs 43.69 crore, the actual utilisation till June 2005 stands at Rs. 6.46 crore.

    Pro-poor budget

    With many of the schemes announced last year yet to be implemented, the State Government has reportedly directed the BBMP to ensure that the budget is a "pro-poor" and "citizen-friendly" one, the official said.

    In the budget for 2006-2007, the then Mayor Mumtaz Begum promised to set up short stay homes for women in distress, old age homes and more day care centres for senior citizens. She had also promised evening colleges for students who wanted to earn while they studied and extend `Sanjeevini,' the supplementary nutrition programme for nursing and expectant mothers to all the wards. This year's budget will add on to the existing schemes, the sources added.