Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, on Friday, took strong exception to the non-utilisation of funds earmarked for the welfare of Dalits and said it reflected the anti-Dalit attitude of the Parkash Singh Badal government.
Bajwa, who was on a tour of Tarn Taran, said in a statement, "A recent report, submitted by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment on the utilisation of funds by the state government meant for Dalits, has exposed the Badal government as the state has been at the bottom among the states in the implementation of the scheduled castes sub plan as it has failed to utilise 33% of this plan component."
He said it was shocking that an amount of about Rs 1,300 crore for scheduled castes remained unspent in 2012-13, while this amount was Rs 1,420.9 crore in the previous year.
He wondered whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the alliance partner in the state, had ever taken up this issue or not as it was a matter of serious concern and reflected the attitude of the government towards 32% of the population in the state.
The funds were meant for the overall development of Dalits, including providing infrastructure and constructing houses for the homeless, besides scholarships to the scheduled castes and backward classes students.
Bajwa asked the government to explain as to where the funds had been diverted. He demanded a high-level inquiry into the non-utilisation of the funds saying such a lapse could not be unintentional.
He also slammed the Badal government for the proposal to increase VAT to 12.5% on diesel as it will increase the price of diesel by Rs 2.25 per litre. He said that the Punjab Congress will launch an agitation, if the decision is implemented.
Earlier in the day, he paid obeisance at the Golden Temple with various leaders of the party.
The state Congress chief was accompanied by Harminder Singh Gill, general secretary, PPCC; Gurchet Singh Bhullar, ex-minister, Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, president, Tarn Taran DCC and others.