In a bid to weed out manipulations in social sectors and ensure effective implementation of welfare schemes, the Maharashtra state government is determined to extend the digitisation process to schemes sanctioned under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe sub-plan, which accounts for 18 per cent of the state budget.
A comprehensive policy is being drawn up to push the digitisation process to bring better results. A secretary in the ministry of tribal welfare said, “We are seeking the help of the Ministry of Information Technology to adopt digitisation for our welfare schemes to minimise human interventions and manipulations.”
Various departments have been demanding that their welfare schemes be put on the digital platform, replicating the model that worked successfully in the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the ministries of social justice and agriculture.
The state government wants to go step by step, and believes emphasis of going digital should be on the social sectors to weed out corruption and bring greater accountability.
Of the total development plan of Rs 77,184 crore, the sub-plan for SC/ST accounts for Rs 13,985 crore, of which the amount for SC is Rs 7,231 crore and ST Rs 6,754 crore. Minister of State for Social Justice Dilip Kamble said, “The magnitude of corruption in scholarships awarded to socially and economically backward students alone was to the tune of
Rs 2,700 crore a year. This has been established in the audit report submitted to the chief minister. Education barons often lifted funds by providing a list of bogus students. Now, we have brought a complete check on this misuse of funds.”
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently launched the MahaDBT where scholarship is directly routed to the bank accounts of individual students. The validity of every student is thus ascertained, said an official.
Officials in the tribal welfare and social justice departments said that digitalisation was the only way to bring social reforms. Whether it relates to streamlining standard of living at ashram shalas (residential tribal schools) or providing utility items to students, funds have to be accounted for against individual students. This is possible through the digital platform, where verification can be done, added an official. Digitalisation of the PDS helped the government to get rid of ten lakh bogus ration cards across the state. The process helped to save 38,000 metric tonne of foodgrain every month. Minister for
Food and Civil Supplies, Girish Bapat, with the help of the IT ministry, has decided to further strengthen the mechanism to ensure there would be no illegal ration cards in future.