`Policy needed to help weaker sections'

BANGALORE April 15. The High-Power Committee on Redressal of Regional Imbalances has strongly urged the State Government to evolve a policy framework to improve the lot of the weaker sections in North Karnataka.

Drawing attention to the wide disparities between South and North Karnataka regions in almost all sectors, the final report of the committee calls for protective policy measures to redress the regional imbalances.

Emphasising the failure of the efforts of the State Government to ensure balanced development of the State, the committee has called for better implementation of the several welfare and social security measures, especially those meant for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), backward classes (BCs), and weaker sections in North Karnataka.

North Karnataka, which has a high incidence of poverty, also has a higher proportion of and SCs and STs. After a study of the plight of SCs, STs, and weaker sections in the region, the report of the committee has outlined a package of safety nets to improve the conditions of these sections.

The report notes that the Government's Plan efforts have not yielded the desired results. During the Plan period, differences in the standard of living between the weaker sections and the others have widened, giving rise to greater inequalities.

"In their anxiety to maximize the Gross State Domestic Product, the planners allocated more resources to the well-endowed regions and the well-endowed sections of the community with the hope that such a course of action would lead to increase in gains to the economy. It was also hoped that the rapid growth of the economy would facilitate benefits of growth reaching the weaker sections and backward regions through what is called percolation effect. Unfortunately, percolation effect did not occur and the weaker sections continued to remain weaker," the report says.

After an analysis of the figures generated by the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) Census for the Ninth Plan period, the report has pointed out that the BPL population in North Karnataka is much larger than in other regions of the State.

As per the BPL Census, while the State's BPL population is 33 per cent of the total population, the BPL population in North Karnataka is 36 per cent, while it is 30 per cent in South Karnataka. In Bagalkot District, the BPL figure is 47 per cent, and 43 per cent in Raichur and Koppal districts.

Though land reforms by way of abolishing tenancy and conferring land ownership on tenants was a major measure towards the redressal of regional imbalances, poor implementation of the reforms did not benefit the landless households in the State.

According to the committee, the new economic policy with the emphasis on globalisation has further compounded the problems faced by the weaker sections. Though the State has a reservation policy, the number of government jobs has begun to shrink. "This affects the weaker sections more than the others because, at a time when these sections have realised the importance of human resource development and when they have made a beginning to use education and health facilities, the gradual withdrawal of the State from these sectors comes as a bolt from the blue," the report notes.

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