Bill for SC/ST special development fund passed

The Telangana State SCs and STs Special Development Fund (Planning, Allocation and Utilization of Financial Resources) Bill, 2017 was passed by the State Legislative Assembly on Friday, after protests by members of Congress party against obliterating the previous Act, and assurances by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to the contrary.

The Bill has introduced a few improvements over the sub-plan Act of 2013, especially the increase of the ratio of mandatory targeted population to 40 per cent from the previous 20 per cent for a habitation to be declared SC or ST.

Further, the time limit of 10 years has been done away with, and provisions have been incorporated for compensating for a year’s unspent funds in the subsequent year’s budget.

Congress party members, including Bhatti Vikramarka and J. Geetha Reddy, protested against a new bill being brought to replace the earlier Act.

Before that, SC Development Minister G. Jagadish Reddy said the new bill was mandated by the Central government’s decision to do away with Plan and non-Plan budget. Committees would be constituted at the district and state levels to monitor its implementation while a special officer and separate section would be appointed in the Finance department to oversee the same.

Pointing out non-implementation of the Act for the last three years, Mr. Bhatti Vikramarka said rules had not been framed and institutions had not been developed for its implementation. He, along with Ms. Geetha Reddy and CPI(M)’s Sunnam Rajaiah, demanded that the funds be used only for targeted schemes, by removing the provision for proportionate allocation to general schemes. He also recommended an Ombudsman for processing complaints about laxity on the part of officials.

Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao, seeking to allay opposition’s fears, said if the form and structure of the present bill were to be incorporated as amendments in the old Act, it would require 109 changes.

Admitting that the implementation of sub-plan had been poor over the years, Mr. Rao claimed that his government had been spending funds over and above the population ratio of SCs and STs for their development.

As per the new bill, funds have to be accounted for at the end of every quarter, to the vigilance committees to be formed at the district level. The SC Welfare Committee at the state level would review the same every six months.

Mr. Rao also assured the House that the spending would surpass the allocations henceforth.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 7:04:29 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/bill-for-scst-special-development-fund-passed/article17654310.ece