Shri K. Varadharajan, Member, Polit Bureau of Communist Party of India (Marxist) has written today to Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Finance Minister, Government of India regarding the budget allocations for the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan.
The following is the text of the letter.
Dear Shri Arun Jaitleyji,
The Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) is a crucial initiative in closing the development gap between the Scheduled Castes and the others. One of the most important budgetary issues for Dalits is the allocations for the Sub-Plan.
This special provision which was initiated about 35 years ago became necessary as it was increasingly becoming clear that Scheduled Castes were not getting an adequate share of government funds. The aim of SCSP is to ensure that adequate allocations are made and spent for real needs and priorities of Dalits.
The SCSP mandates the setting apart of a proportion of the total Plan outlays of the Centre and state governments that is equivalent to the population proportion of SCs at the national and state level, for their development. Census 2011 has pegged the Scheduled Castes population at 16.6 % of the total population. In the vote-on-account budget presented in March 2014, according to rules, 16.6% of the total funds for Dalits should have been allocated, but instead, they were allocated just 8.76%. The total budget was Rs 17,63,214 crores. Under the SCSP, what was supposed to have been allocated is Rs 92,183.45 crores. But what actually was allocated is only Rs 48,638.31 crores, which is only half of what should have been allocated. Both dalits and adivasis expected to rectify this anomaly by the new government. But they have been disappointed. The actual allocation in this budget is Rs. 50,548 crores and Rs. 32,387 crores for SCs and STs respectively. The total plan allocation also declined in real terms roughly by 4%. Moreover the share of SCs and STs in total plan expenditure is falling short by Rs. 47,000 crores and Rs. 14,000 crores according to Planning Commission guidelines based on proportion of population.
Experience shows that even what is being allocated is not spent for the welfare of the Dalits. In the last year’s budget (2013-14) Rs 41,561.13 crores was allocated for the SCSP, but according to the revised estimates, only Rs 35,800.6 have been spent.
There also have been several glaring cases of diversion of SCSP funds for entirely different uses such as construction of flyovers, Commonwealth Games etc.
It is clear that the SCSP has been widely violated in actual practice. The 12th Plan document stated frankly, “despite the fact that strategies of TSP and SCSP had been in operation for more than three decades, they could not be implemented as effectively as desired. The expenditure in many of the states/UTs was not even 50 per cent of the allocated funds. No proper budget heads/sub heads were created to prevent diversion of funds. There was no controlling and monitoring mechanism and the planning and supervision was not as effective as it should be.”
There is a great need for a well-designed, dedicated institutional setup at the Central and state level, which shall allocate SCSP funds to the ministries/departments, taking into consideration the developmental needs of SCs. This should enable the ministries/departments to clearly show the schemes formulated for the development of SCs under a separate budget head.
In this background, in order to ensure an effective implementation of the SCSP, there is an urgent need to enact a national level legislation to provide statutory backing to the provisions of the SCSP. Due to the consistent struggles waged by the CPI(M) and later by other like-minded organisations, such a legislation was enacted by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 2012, though this law has some shortcomings. Therefore, we are requesting you to make a law to strengthen SCSP provisions as a statutory one.
• In this Budget Session itself, enact a legislation providing statutory status to the SCSP.
• Allocate 16.6 % of the Plan Outlays for the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan.
• Ensure that the allocated funds are spent for the development of Dalits and are not diverted for other general purposes.
• Ensure that the funds are spent and see that they do not lapse.