National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) vice-chairman Raj Kumar Verka has accused the Punjab government of ignoring the SC community and alleged that it had dispossessed Dalits of more than 2,000 acres of land in the recent past. He demanded that dispossessed persons should be given permanent land rights.
Talking to mediapersons here on Tuesday, he claimed that only 2% of the Centre’s budget for welfare schemes was spent on the actual beneficiaries and the rest of the funds were diverted by the state government to fulfill its other liabilities.
Verka said that appointing Dalits on key political posts would not help the parties in the elections as the community had stopped serving as a mere vote bank. “SCs count for about 35% of the population of Punjab and they are entitled to benefits in that proportion, but neither they are getting full reservation rights nor benefits of other welfare schemes,” he alleged.
He added that the position was no better during the Congress regime as well. He alleged that the government had failed to regularise the services of safai karamcharis, who have been serving on contract basis for years, nor taking care of their health and safety.
“The government may claim that the practice of manual scavenging has ended, but I disagree. Still, there are places in some cities of Punjab where dry latrines are in use. Moreover, railway lines and several other public places are cleaned manually,” he said.
Forcing safai karamcharis clean sewers without safety equipment was also illegal, he added, and warned that cases would be registered against the contractor concerned and officials if any sanitation worker fell prey to negligence. Demanding an end to the contract system of hiring safai karamcharis, Verka said that despite a Supreme Court verdict that temporary employees with more than 10 years of service should be made regular, the states had failed to do so.