The foundation stone laying ceremony for the Ekalavya Model Residential School at Konchur village in Chitapur taluk in Gulbarga district on Sunday was witness to an interesting confrontation between Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge and Social Welfare Minister A. Narayanaswamy on the Central funds to the State.

According to Mr. Narayanaswamy, the Central funds to the State meant for welfare schemes for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and providing infrastructure facilities to the slums were predominantly used up for the Scheduled Castes. “The State Government spent more than Rs. 900 crore to improve the infrastructure facilities in the slums,” he said.

Mr. Narayanaswamy, while praising Mr. Kharge for bringing more Central funds to the State, expressed dissatisfaction over the indifferent approach of the Union Government in helping the States improve the educational network for economically weaker sections. “If more funds are released, it will help the State meet the requirements of deprived sections of society”.

Response

Mr. Kharge strongly refuted the contention of Mr. Narayanaswamy, declaring the Centre had provided adequate funds for various development works. He said, “Indulging in a blame game will not help meet aspirations of the people who have voted us to power… the people are not bothered about where the funds come from but only the results.”

He said that in the Labour Department itself, more than Rs. 4,000 crore worth of works were taken up in Karnataka this year, and more projects were in the pipeline. Mr. Kharge said that the State leaders should, before pointing fingers at the Centre, ponder over the utilisation of available funds meant for the welfare of the deprived sections of society. “A sum of Rs. 1,000 crore collected as cess from builders for taking up welfare measures for construction labourers and their children has not been unutilised in Karnataka…..so far, only Rs. 40 crore out of the total Rs. 1,000 crore has been spent in Karnataka.”

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