Funds meant for SCs underutilised: Panel

“We are interested in SC-specific schemes. We are not interested in spending on general population schemes. That is a diversion of SCSP funds,” P.L. Punia, chairman of the NCSC, told The Hindu .

The data for Bihar, for instance, is illustrative of these trends. In 2015-16, its SCSP outlay of Rs. 9,335.5 crore was 16.34% of its total plan allocation, which is commendable. But of the Rs. 9,335.5 crore, Rs. 7,917 crore was diverted to expenditure for general schemes. Only Rs. 1,329.94 crore was actually spent on SC-specific schemes. Translated into percentages, expenditure on SC-specific schemes was only 2.48% of the total plan expenditure (Rs. 53,673 crore) in a State whose SC population is 15.90%.

Indranil Mukherjee, assistant director of the Bihar Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Welfare department, while admitting that Bihar’s expenditure on SC-specific schemes was 2.48%, insisted that general population schemes also benefit SCs and should be counted when calculating SCSP spending. “Bihar’s record of expenditure on SC-specific schemes is still better than that of States such as Odisha and Rajasthan.”

He is right about other States faring much worse. Odisha, for instance, in 2015-16, allocated Rs. 5,813 crore for the SCSP. Of this, only Rs. 111.48 crore went to SC-specific schemes. Its total expenditure on SC-specific schemes was 0.25% of its total plan allocation, whereas its proportion of SC population is 17.31%.

‘Aim is integration’

Surendra Kumar, commissioner-cum-secretary with the Odisha government’s Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department, said every government scheme had an SC-component. “Having SC-specific schemes is not a desirable step as it tends to perpetuate segregation. The aim of Plan Development is integration of society rather than segregation of communities.”

In the case of Rajasthan (17.81% SC population), Haryana (20.17%), and Himachal Pradesh (25.19%), the expenditure on SC-specific schemes was 0.34%, 3.94% and 7.36% respectively of the allocation in 2015-16.

Telangana fares well

The NCSC observed that Telangana had the best record in terms of not diverting SCSP funds. Of its SCSP outlay of Rs. 8,089 crore, “only Rs. 970.59 crore had been adjusted in general purpose schemes.” West Bengal (23.5% SC population) and Karnataka (17.15%) had the best numbers in terms of SC-specific allocations, recording 22% and 16% respectively of the outlay.

Many States including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh did not furnish complete data. Data for Tamil Nadu shows SCSP allocation at 20.56% and 20.46% for 2016-17 and 2015-16 respectively. A senior official from Tamil Nadu’s Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department said the data was sent on time to the NCSC but did not divulge further details.

The SCSP was introduced to bridge the gap in human development between the SCs and the general population. It aims to channelise funds directly to SCs via dedicated schemes. A State’s failure to spend on SC-specific schemes in proportion to its SC population is seen as a comment on its commitment (or the lack thereof) to welfare of the socially and economically marginalised communities.

( With inputs from Amarnath Tewary, Prafulla Kumar Das and Sanjay Vijayakumar )

Bihar’s record of expenditure on schemes is better than that of Odisha

and Rajasthan