Nod for bill preventing diversion of funds meant for SCs, STs

Officials violating its provisions may face six-month imprisonment

Nod for bill preventing diversion of funds meant for SCs, STs

The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a bill which aims to ensure that funds allocated for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are not diverted for other purposes in violation of the budget.

If an official willfully neglects his duties as prescribed under the bill, he will have to face disciplinary action including imprisonment up to six months and offences will be non-cognizable.

The Karnataka Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Bill, 2013, once its becomes an Act,  Karnataka will be the second state in the country, after Andhra Pradesh, to have such exclusive law to earmark a portion of the state plan outlay for the SCs/STs under various plans in proportion to their population.

The bill is designed by and large on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh law which gives statutory status to SCs/STs sub-plan. Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya, who piloted the bill, termed it as a historical one as it puts an end to diversion of funds meant for SCs/STs. 

It also has made provision for putting in place an institutional mechanism for preparation, implementation and monitoring of sub-plan as approved in budget.  The bill was welcomed by all the parties though various suggestions were made by the Opposition to improvise upon it.

Now, there are complaints that though successive governments have been releasing crores of rupees to various departments for the welfare of SCs/STs, the benefits have not reached the target groups due to non-implementation of the plans, diversion of funds, non-cooperation/indifferent attitude of officials to implement the schemes. Hence, the status of socially, educationally and financially oppressed  classes has not seen the desired improvement.

In case of money allocated for the two groups is unspent in a particular financial year, the same may be added to the next year’s allocation, but will not be carried further beyond that year.

Nodal agency

Once the new law is enacted, the minister said, a single window agency (nodal agency) will be established to channelise funds for schemes under various departments. Funds will be pooled in through the Agency.

The social welfare department will be the nodal department under which the nodal agency will function. The social welfare minister will be the chairman of the proposed agency.

“Stringent action will be taken against those officers who fail to utilise the funds for the welfare of SCs/STs within the stipulated time. Criminal cases will be filled against them,” Anjaneya said.

The proposed Nodal Agency will evaluate, appraise and review plans of departments which have schemes for welfare of the two groups and, thereby ensure transparency in expenditure at various levels. It will also facilitate annual social auditing of expenditure. The Agency will submit annual report on its assigned work to the legislature.

Monitoring panels

The bill envisages setting up of a state level council for the development of SCs/STs, which will be headed by the chief minister. It will include ministers, legislators and officials. It will advise the government on all the policy matters.

There will be a monitoring committee in each district for implementing the schemes.  MLAs and zilla panchayat presidents will be special invitees on the panel.  There will be an exclusive cell in the finance department for budget implementation and fund allocation.
Earlier, YSV Datta (JD-S), B S Yeddyurappa (KJP), Jagadish Shettar (BJP) and a host of other MLAs said that the bill was progressive in nature. But, the government must ensure that the most oppressed and marginalised among the SCs/STs should get the maximum benefit.  For no reason, the funds meant for the welfare should be diverted to civil works, they said.

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