A parliamentary committee, headed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, has pulled up the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for its “lack of seriousness in strengthening safety and security of women in the country” even as crimes against women show a rising trend. In its report, tabled before the Parliament earlier this week, the committee noted: “The allocations made for schemes for safety of women has been drastically cut down from Rs 313.30 crore for 2017-18 (budget estimates) to just Rs 81.75 crore in 2018-19 (budget estimates).” The Committee expressed “disappointment” that the allocated amount of Rs 22.69 crore (capital) could not be utilised completely due to which the allocation got substantially decreased to Rs.7.87 crore in Revised Estimates 2017-18.
“The Committee strongly disapproves of this lack of seriousness in strengthening the safety and security of women in the country,” the panel said. In 2013, the Union Government allocated Rs 1000 crore as ‘Nirbhaya fund’ in its annual budget following the December 2012 gangrape and murder in New Delhi. The corpus was to be utilised for improving safety and security of women. The fund allocated in 2013 was to be spent by all States and Union Territories, including Delhi.
The parliamentary panel also expressed “dismay at the pace of fund utilisation during 2017-18” for rehabilitation of returnees under Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh in 2015. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2015 had approved an allocation of Rs 1005.99 crore for a period of five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for implementing the rehabilitation package for returnees and up-gradation of infrastructure of the Bangladeshi Enclaves and Cooch Behar District after the transfer of enclaves between India and Bangladesh under the LBA.
The standing committee observed that “against a target of releasing around Rs 200 crore per year, on an average from 2015-16 to 2019-20, the home ministry was able to release only Rs 280 crore during the first two year out of which only Rs 206 crore has been utilised.” The 209th report of standing committee also rapped the home ministry over tardy pace of work on the borders particularly on Indo- Pakistan, Indo-China and Indo- Bangladesh.