Next year when states compile their annual budgets, they would have a fair idea if they kept their promise to spend more on the weaker sections.
States have told the Planning Commission that they would be spending nearly Rs 40,000 crore on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in their states. The planning commission had earlier instructed states to ensure that SCs and STs get the full benefits of central schemes and flagship programmes in proportion to their population. They have also been told to refocus the Special Component Plan for SCs and the Tribal Sub Plan.
A budget subhead created for this purpose at the commission's instance is finally going to ensure that the money kept aside to help the weaker sections ends up where it is targeted. Planning Commission officials indicated the new rule already seems to have had an impact; several states appear to have significantly raised the allocations.
In some cases like Jharkhand, even the recommended norms exceeded. At a 26 per cent ST population in the state, Jharkhand was asked to spend at least Rs 1,709 crore under the TSP. It had allocated twice as much, Rs 3,811 crore. Officials suggest that the best part about the new system is that everyone will know if the political leadership was matching its words with action.
Figures available with the commission indicate Karnataka could have slipped on this criteria and it shows, spending nearly Rs 1,500 crore less under the two programmes than it should have in proportion to their population.