Like Muslims, the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) will also be entitled to a 'fair share' from the government resources. About 23 per cent of the government's money would be allocated for their welfare from the next financial year.
This comes in wake of opposition parties demanding 'fair share' for all weaker sections after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought more allocation for government resources for the Muslims.
Acting on the PM's initiative on affirmative action for weaker sections, the Planning Commission recently issued directions to all state governments and ministries to allocate funds for SC and STs are per their share in population.
"The mid-term appraisal of the 10th plan has noted that several central ministries and departments have not earmarked adequate funds for SC and STs as per their share in population," the new guidelines noted.
The direction, in the next year budget, could mean that of the total of 2,10,000 crores at least Rs 40,000 crores would have to be earmarked only for welfare of SCs and STs. And, the amount will be non-divertible.
The government had earlier announced that 15 per cent of resources would go for welfare of the Muslims.
The new guidelines have been issued with primarily five objectives - ensuring proper share of resources for SCs and STs, substantial reduction in poverty and unemployment, creating productive assets for them, their human resources development through better education and health services and provision of physical and financial security against all types of exploitation and oppression.
To ensure that funds reach the deprived sections, the government has designated Social Justice Ministry as nodal agency for finalising and monitoring all government projects for SCs and Tribal Affairs Ministry for STs. "The two ministries will have to clear all projects for SC and STs and also ensure that the reserved category gets their share fairly," said a senior government official.
Apart from this, each ministry will also have a 'dedicated unit' for preparation of SC and ST sub-plans for that ministry. The funds for them will have to be earmarked in a separate budget head.
"Only those schemes should be included in the sub plans which directly benefit the individuals or the families belonging to SCs or STs," the guidelines pointed out.
The government has also prioritised the sector like education, health, drinking water, nutrition, rural housing, rural electrification and rural link road for SCs and STs.
The ministries have been asked to draw schemes to encourage institutional finance for them in addition to the plan allocation. Various report have indicated that these basic facilities were lacking in areas populated by SCs and STs.
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