No state in the country barring Orissa has utilised even 50 per cent of the funds allocated to it by the Centre under the ‘multi-sectoral development programme for minorities’, an offshoot of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 15-point plan for minorities.
The programme is being implemented in 90 districts of the country, identified by the Centre, that have at least a 25 per cent minority population — Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi. The majority of districts lie in four states: Uttar Pradesh (21), Assam (13), West Bengal (12) and Bihar (7).
Statistics show West Bengal and Bihar — both governed by parties ostensibly committed to minority uplift (the Left Front in Bengal and the Janata Dal United-BJP in Bihar); both headed for assembly polls soon (Bengal in April next year, Bihar this October) — have been the worst performers.
West Bengal has used only 13 per cent of the central funding available to it and Bihar just 19 per cent. In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has rushed PMO officials to identified districts like Murshidabad in West Bengal and Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh to speed up development pace and rate of fund utilisation.
Overall, just 20 per cent of the Rs 25,311 crore allocated to the programme — most of it from the Centre with a small state contribution — had been used by states until March.
By June, after some prodding, the utilisation increased to 28 per cent in June.
On July 9, minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid wrote to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on the subject. Projects proposals from Bihar have been repeartedly rejected for not meeting guidelines.
“(This is a) setback…” Khurshid’s letter said.
Some states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have not even reported how much of the funds received they have utilised. The multi-sector programme, a key component of the UPA government’s programme to promote inclusive growth, provides additional allocations to all existing schemes, such as schooling and housing in the selected districts, so that their skewed socio-economic ratios are corrected.