Other States

Rajasthan pushes for separate funding for Dalits, tribal development

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The Congress government in Rajasthan has sought suggestions from the public on a draft legislation for allocation of funds for welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes every year in proportion to their populations. The Bill is likely to be tabled in the upcoming budget session of the State Assembly, starting on February 9.

The Rajasthan State SC & ST Development Fund (Planning, Allocation, and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Bill is aimed at ensuring sustainable development of Dalits and tribals by creating an institutional mechanism for utilisation of funds in the focus areas. The draft Bill stated that its primary objective was to “cover up the deficit” of these communities on development indicators.

While the Dalit and civil society groups have been demanding the enactment of such a law in the State for more than a decade, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had reportedly prepared a draft in 2013 during his previous tenure. The draft law could not see the light of the day following the change of government.

The ruling Congress seems to be focusing on its core vote banks by bringing a law before the 2023 Assembly election to ensure that the total allocation of funds in the government schemes for Dalits and tribals would not be less than their proportionate population. The SCs account for 18% and the STs 12% of Rajasthan’s population.

Rajasthan will be the fifth State to provide a legal framework for separate allocation of funds and expenditure for SC and ST populations if the Assembly passes the Bill. Similar statutes have been enacted in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, while the Punjab Cabinet approved the outline of a similar ordinance earlier this month.

Jaipur-based Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR) has welcomed the move and said it would improve the quality of health, education, livelihood and nutrition for Dalits and tribals. “The Act will be helpful in achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and ensure all-round development of underprivileged and marginalised communities,” CDR Director Satish Kumar said here on Thursday.

The draft Bill envisages action by all government departments to prepare and send proposals for development funds to promote equity and extend “direct and quantifiable benefits” to bridge the gaps in the development indicators of SC and ST communities. Each department will ensure transparency and accountability at all levels in the implementation, according to the Bill.

Significantly, the then Planning Commission had introduced the concept of separate funds allocated proportional to the SC and ST populations during the Fifth and Sixth Five-Year Plans. The State government was of the view that it could not significantly influence the sections concerned in the right perspective despite the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan being in operation.

Chief Secretary Niranjan Arya has also directed the Divisional Commissioners and District Collectors to clear the pending cases of relief payable to victims under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Act has a provision for payment of relief up to ₹8.25 lakh in 47 offences of atrocity.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 8:28:55 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-pushes-for-separate-funding-for-dalits-tribal-development/article38336428.ece