House panel apprehensive about ₹15,000 crore PM-PVTG allocation

Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment says the government made the allocation despite missing PVTG population data for several States and UTs

Published - March 14, 2023 10:21 pm IST - New Delhi

Weeks after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a ₹15,000 crore expenditure layout for the Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM-PVTG) Development Mission, the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment on March 14 expressed disappointment that such a massive budgetary allocation had been planned when even the Ministry of Tribal Affairs does not have data on PVTG populations in several States and Union Territories.

The House panel, headed by BJP MP Rama Devi, in its report on the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, said, “The Committee are rather apprehensive on the enhanced budgetary allocation for PVTGs and its utilisation by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs as data on population of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in several States/UTs is still not available with them.”

The panel noted that Ministry officials informed members that for PVTGs, an annual expenditure of ₹5,000 crore had been planned — to be spent over the next three years. The officials also told the Committee that States and Union Territories had been asked to carry out baseline surveys and that this exercise was now under verification process.

“The Committee feel that this should have been done earlier because they strongly believe that in the absence of correct details of the population of PVTGs, the financial allocation for the Scheme may not bear the desired results,” the panel noted in its report.

The House panel also noted that an evaluation study had revealed that PVTG data is absent in many States and UTs, including for Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which the panel members recently visited, and where six of seven Scheduled Tribes groups fall under the PVTG categorisation.

ALSO READ | AnSI welcomes Budget provisions for PVTGs, calls for tribe-specific approach

“The Committee hope that now the details of the population of PVTGs in different States/UTs would be collected seriously and verified at the earliest so that the budgetary allocation for them is utilised correctly and socio-economic development of PVTGs could be done in a comprehensive manner,” it said. 

The panel also pointed out that the government had been able to spend just ₹6.48 crore for the development of PVTGs in 2022-23, out of an initial allocation of ₹252 crore, and said that estimates had to be reduced significantly in FYs 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23.

“The Committee expect the Ministry to focus on the welfare of PVTGs under a well-conceived Action Plan,” the panel said, adding that the Ministry ought to find a way to ensure that pendency of utilisation certificates is resolved and the grants due is released to the States/UTs.

Expressing hope that the PM-PVTG Development Mission had the potential to rejuvenate a “crumbling scheme”, “if implemented with the requisite push”, the panel said it expects the Ministry to frame the modalities, guidelines and SOPs expeditiously, and also sought regular updates on the same from the Tribal Affairs Ministry.

On 2023-24 allocation

On the Tribal Affairs allocation of over ₹12,000 crore made in this year’s Budget Estimates, the Committee said it appreciated this increase. However, it also noted that in the past three financial years, Tribal Affairs Ministry’s allocation has consistently reduced from BE stage to RE stage, and cautioned that the same not be repeated this year.

The panel noted, “After overall analysis of all the reasons given by the Ministry, the Committee have found that absence of advance planning, change in procedures and failure of States/UTs to implement Schemes with the requisite enthusiasm and procedural discipline, are the major reasons, due to which actual expenditure during  these years was less in comparison to Budgetary Estimates.”

It said that the Ministry should make exhaustive exercises to keep all stakeholders informed about procedures and implementation requirements and collect proper data on beneficiaries, among other measures, so that the full Budget is utilised. It also said that the Ministry should be communicating with States and UTs more effectively to keep them abreast about policy or procedural revisions.

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