Welfare programmes for SC/ST remains 'poor'
Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) record in spending funds for the welfare of the SCs/STs is rather poor, if statistics are any indication.
It is mandated that 22.75 per cent funds available from the total State Finance Commission grant and the revenue of Municipal should be spent on the welfare of SC/STs, the MCC has utilised only 30.77 per cent it till February end in 2012-13.
According to the sources, the State Financial Commission had released Rs 9.59 crore to the MCC. Out of which, Rs 3.56 crore was earmarked as the 22.75 per cent fund. About Rs 53.86 lakh was pending as opening balance of the 22.75 per cent fund. Though a total of Rs 4.09 crore were available to take up welfare programmes, the MCC had spent only Rs 1.05 crore till February end.
The MCC had collected revenue of Rs 9.74 crore till February and Rs 2.95 crore was earmarked as 22.75 per cent fund and the opening balance was Rs 73.09 lakh. The total available fund under 22.75 per cent was Rs 3.68 crore. However, only Rs 1.34 crore has been utilised so far.
Out of 22.75 per cent fund, 16.20 pc is earmarked for SCs and the remaining 6.55 per cent for the welfare of the STs. The fund can be utilised for 10 schemes — housing, self-employment, health, education (distributing laptop or desktop for MBBS or BE students), reimbursement of fees for MBBS/BE students (government/aided colleges), money to purchase books (for LLB degree holders) and to provide financial aid for students who participate in national/state-level competitions. Also, funds can be used to construct toilets, distribute gas and water, provide drainage facilities and conduct public awareness programmes.
Though housing is one of the popular schemes in the last few years, under the 22.75 per cent grant, the MCC has received only 29 applications for housing (27 sanctioned). For LPG connections, the MCC has received 104 applications and 88 have been sanctioned (Upto 5,000 LPG connections can be sanctioned). Applications for books- 12 (9 sanctioned, 3 rejected), laptop-3 (all sanctioned), tap water- 14 (12 sanctioned), toilet- 28 (25 sanctioned), self-employment- 19 (17 sanctioned), medical benefits- 3 (2 sanctioned), legal camp-2 (both sanctioned), for state/national sports/cultural events-1 (sanctioned), health check-up, awareness campaigns- 2 (1 sanctioned).
According to a government circular, a separate account should be opened in a nationalised bank for the utilisation of fund and the ULBs should deposit the 22.75 per cent of its revenue every month. To get the benefit of the scheme, the income of the beneficiaries must be Rs one lakh (for education it is Rs 2 lakh). Upto 60 per cent of the fund can also be utilised for community programmes.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, the 22.75 per cent Municipal Fund Superintendent K Laxminarayana Holla blamed some changes made in the initial plan for poor results. There is no provision to give money for ‘Taalibhagya Yojana’ under the revised plan. Even house repair, electricity connections, plastic tank scheme are also dropped from the plan. Now, health expense is reimbursed only if the person or family is covered under Yashaswini scheme. Organisations cannot claim money for religious purpose. They have to depend on Muzrai department, Aradhana fund or MP, MLA fund, he said.
To a query, he said that there are no complexities in the 22.75 per cent expenditure. However, it is unfortunate that the plan for the poor itself is poor and needs revamping.