Sunday, January 9, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalits demand a fair deal

Dalits demand a fair deal

Mohammed Iqbal

"Rs.8,350 crore spent on other Plan heads instead"

Figures reveal "an open flouting" of directives: Dalits

JAIPUR: Dalit groups here on Saturday demanded adequate allocations
under the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan in the State Budget for 2011-12
consistent with the population of Dalits in Rajasthan while pointing
out that a whopping Rs.8,351.69 crore meant for the Sub-Plan was spent
on other Plan heads during the past five years.

Releasing the findings of a study on Plan allocations and expenditure
in the State from 2006-07 to 2010-11, the Centre for Dalit Rights
(CDR) and Dalit Aarthik Adhikar Andolan said only four departments of
the State Government — social welfare, nutrition, crop husbandry and
special area programme — had kept aside more than 10 per cent of their
allocations for works relating to the Scheduled Castes.

"As many as 34 other departments did not even open their Scheduled
Caste Sub-Plan accounts, while five departments allocated less than
one per cent and five others one per cent to five per cent for the
Sub-Plan," said CDR patron P.L. Mimroth at a press conference here.
The Sub-Plan in Rajasthan should comprise an average of 17.2 per cent
of the total Plan outlay in view of the Dalits' population.

The amount denied to the Sub-Plan, earlier known as Special Component
Plan, was estimated at Rs.1,256.19 crore in 2006-07, Rs.1,579.55 crore
in 2007-08, Rs.1,676.47 crore in 2008-09, Rs.1,880.21 crore in 2009-10
and Rs.1,959.27 crore in 2010-11. Dalit activists said these figures
revealed "an open flouting" of the Planning Commission's directives.

Departments such as education, medical and health, family welfare,
labour and employment and industries allocated negligible funds for
development of the Scheduled Castes during the past five years, while
seven departments did not make any allocation after perfunctorily
opening the Sub-Plan accounts.

Dalit Aarthik Adhikar Andolan convenor Kailash Chand Bairwa said the
Planning Commission's guidelines clearly specified that allocations
for the Sub-Plan could not be allowed to lapse or diverted to any
other head: "The way the State government has been treating the
finances for the Dalits suggests that it does not treat them
significant enough to be included in its development plans."

Mr. Bairwa pointed out that Rajasthan's disregard for Dalits was
evident not just in the Plan expenditure but in all spheres of the
social sector such as award of scholarships, management of Ambedkar
hostels, allotment of agricultural land, rehabilitation of manual
scavengers and eradication of untouchability.

The two groups demanded that the Rs.8,351.69 crore denied to the
Scheduled Castes during the past five years as well as the funds
diverted elsewhere since 1980 — the year the Special Component Plan
was launched — be specially allocated in the 2011-12 State Budget and
be used for purchasing undisputed agricultural land, which should
later be allotted to landless Dalits across the State.

"A land bank on the Andhra Pradesh pattern should also be established
in Rajasthan for allotting agricultural and residential land on
priority to Dalits," said CDR director Satish Kumar, adding that
thousands of acres of surplus land lying in neglect in the rural areas
should be incorporated into the land bank.

The groups also demanded appointment of nodal officers in each
department to monitor the allocation and utilisation of the funds.


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