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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Centre clueless as ministries lay claim to ‘Nirbhaya fund’

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 02, 2013
First Published: 23:02 IST(2/4/2013) | Last Updated: 23:05 IST(2/4/2013)

Even as the government continues to be clueless about how to utilise the Nirbhaya fund — a Rs. 1,000 crore corpus announced by finance minister P Chidambaram to bolster women’s safety — different ministries have already started jockeying to stake the claim to administer the fund.

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Krishna Tirath, women and child development minister has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 12 stating that since WCD is the nodal ministry mandated to frame policies for women empowerment, it should be given the responsibility to administer the fund.

Sources said the home ministry has also staked claim to manage the fund on the ground that safety and security is its domain. However, the finance ministry is not too keen on this and wants to administer the fund itself.

So far, no concrete proposal has been firmed up on how the corpus should be structured and for which schemes it should be used.  Several proposals have been mooted in meetings held between the Planning Commission and finance ministry like using it to recruit more women police personnel, installing close circuit TVs in public places, imparting self-defence training to women and creating legal awareness on crime against women, etc.

There was also a proposal that the fund could be used to upgrade safety measures in public transport buses by installing GPS. “We have had some deliberations. However, nothing has been finalized as yet and no formal meeting has taken place to decide on its utilisation,” said a  official.

No programme for women’s welfare can take off unless the government decides who should administer the fund. Sources said the finance ministry is not too keen on the fund being spent on any of the existing scheme.

The announcement to set up the corpus came close on the heels of the nationwide protests following the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in the capital last December.

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