Two Congress MLAs have convened a meeting of all the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes MLAs from across all parties to press for the legislation of an SC/ST Sub-Plan Act — much on the lines of the laws in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh — to prevent diversion of funds meant for the SC/STs.
Dalit MLA Naushad Solanki and tribal MLA Anil Joshiyara, who have convened the meeting, said that the law would ensure that the funds will be allotted for the SCs and STs as per their population in the state, and spent for the benefit of the two communities only. Solanki, who was elected MLA for the first time in the last year’s Assembly polls, had tabled a private member’s Bill for the SC/ST sub-plan Act in the Assembly during the last budget session. The Bill was introduced, but a debate could not be held to pass it.
“As per the rules, the funds for the SC/ST sub-plans is allotted in proportion to the population of the two communities from the state’s budget. While the state government never allotted the money in proportion to the population of the two communities, whatever money was allotted was spent on projects that did not benefit the two communities,” Solanki told The Indian Express.
Elaborating on it, he said that since the SCs and STs constitute 21 per cent of the state’s population — 7 per cent SCs and 14 per cent STs, the state government should have allotted Rs 36,157 crore (21 per cent of the total outlay of Rs 1,72,179 crore in this year’s annual budget) for the SC/ST sub-plan, which could have been spent for the benefit of the two communities only.
According to the MLA, the funds for the SC/ST was spent on publicity for the chief minister, advertisements for government schemes and building of roads and highways that had nothing to do with the direct benefit of the SC/ST communities.
“While the government showed that they had allocated thousands of crores of rupees for the welfare of SCs and STs, the fact was is the money was not spent for the two communities it was meant to. This is despite the directions of the NITI Aayog as per which that SC/ST funds be spent on schemes providing direct benefits, and the money should not be used for any other purposes,” said Solanki.
Solanki said that he had communicated to all the SC/ST MLAs of the Congress as well as the ruling BJP about the Tuesday’s meeting, and everyone has promised to attend it. There are a total of 13 SC MLAs and 27 ST MLAs. Of them, 20 MLAs — five SC and 15 ST — are with the Congress and the remaining with the ruling BJP. “If the MLAs of both the parties come together, the Bill will certainly be passed’’, he said.
Asked if the BJP MLAs did not turn up for the meeting, Solanki replied,”If the BJP legislators don’t turn up and don’t support the Bill in the House, then we will launch a movement on the issue across the state. We will make it a political issue.”