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Funds meant for SCs underutilised, finds NCSC (Adapted from The Hindu, Relevant for GS Mains Paper II, Topic : Welfare schemes for SC)

Analysis by National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)
Figures submitted by State governments to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) have led the monitoring body to observe that while “many States have generally allocated funds to the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) on a par with the Scheduled Castes (SC) population of the States, the actual expenditures under SCSP is between 2% and 8% of allocation in most States except West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana.”

The unspent SCSP fund is often re-appropriated and spent on general population schemes.The data submitted by the States covered the years 2012-13 to 2015-16.

Example from Bihar
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%.

Counter argument
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 other States such as Odisha and Rajasthan.”

The NCSC observed in an internal note 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 total Plan outlay.

Objectives of SCSP
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.



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