Date:10/01/2008 URL: The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : BBMP ‘wastes’ funds meant for SC, ST welfare

BBMP ‘wastes’ funds meant for SC, ST welfare

Bageshree S.

It spent only Rs. 18.78 crore last year
The civic body does not carry forward the unspent amount
Funds meant for SC/ST welfare being diverted to other programmes

Bangalore: Special allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities is highlighted in every Budget, be it that of the State or local bodies. But what really happens to these huge of sums is a question rarely asked.

A series of Right to Information applications filed by B. Venkatesh, convenor of Dalit Bahujan Movement, has revealed that crores of rupees in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) budget meant for SC/ST welfare have remained unspent for years. Audited figures of the Palike between 2000-01 and 2006-07 show that of the total allocation of Rs. 140.5 crore, Rs. 47.60 crore has not been spent.

“The BBMP, like several other Government departments, allocates much less than the mandatory 18 per cent for SC/ST welfare schemes. Worse, it fails to spend even what is allocated. This, while lakhs of Dalits go without food and shelter in the city,” says Mr. Venkatesh.

Official figures show that in the last financial year BBMP spent only Rs. 18.78 crore of the total allocation of Rs. 36.46 crore. Even in two earlier years (2003-04 and 2004-05) where audited figures show that more than the stipulated amount had been spent, Mr. Venkatesh has documents that suggest that within the BBMP some of the departments stated that the money meant for SC/ST schemes were not entirely spent.

For instance, in 2004-05, the BBMP has stated that it spent nearly a crore more than the allocation. But figures of the welfare department in the BBMP show that about Rs. 7 crore remained unutilised that year.

This is the state of affairs even as there is no dearth of government orders and circulars on how allocations should be made and spent for SC/ST welfare, says Mr. Venkatesh.
He said that BBMP not only does not carry forward the unspent amount, but that there are several instances of funds meant for SC/ST welfare being diverted to other programmes, which is against the rules. “Most poor Dalits do not know that crores are allocated for their welfare. Councillors and MLAs take credit for the money they spend from the official allocation,” says Mr. Venkatesh.

“Dalit organisations tend to speak about atrocity issues, but do not highlight how welfare programmes are being misused.”
The Dalita Bahujana Chaluvali is now holding consultations in various wards to create awareness on the schemes and draw up a list of demands depending on their needs rather than accept what comes from above.

“These data and examples pertain to one department. In all, there are 76 departments and hundreds of schemes. The situation is far more serious,” says Manoranjini of Alternative Law Forum, who has applied under RTI to get information on SC/ST welfare allocation in 36 departments. After two months after filing the application, she is yet to get a response.