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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Maharashtra diverts Rs 2,000 crore towards farm loan waiver; schemes for SCs, STs to suffer

Experts and activists from Dalit and tribal communities have slammed the state government for diverting funds

mumbai Updated: Oct 18, 2017 23:44 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
HIndustan Times
Farmers across Maharashtra protested seeking a loan waiver.
Farmers across Maharashtra protested seeking a loan waiver.(HT file )

  The disbursement of farm loan waiver is likely to kick up a storm. A government resolution (GR) issued by the state on Monday revealed that it has diverted Rs2,000 crore from the funds reserved for welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Schedule Tribes (STs) while making a budgetary provision of Rs20,000 crore for the waiver.

Taking cognisance of the issue, the social justice department is now pushing for a legal provision to make it void for the state to divert funds meant for the welfare of SCs and STs for other works.

The diversion of Rs2,000 crore is likely to hit scholarships, infrastructure development such as construction of roads and water supply schemes, among others, in areas where SC and ST population is dominant.

The experts and activists from Dalit and tribal communities have slammed the state government for diverting funds.

“The planning commission, which has now been disbanded, had issued guidelines for budgetary allocation. These were in proportion with the population of Dalits and tribals in the state. While SCs account for 11.8% population in the state, the STs form 9.5% of the population. Considering this, the state needs to allocate Rs7,500 crore for welfare of SCs and Rs6,000 crore for the STs . The social welfare department, which deals with the budget meant for the SCs has received Rs6500 crore so far. For now, the state has diverted Rs500 crore each from the budgets to be spent on welfare schemes for SCs and STs. The remaining Rs1,000 crore will be diverted as per its convenience,” an official from the social welfare department said.

It is mandatory for the government to utilise the entire budget on welfare schemes meant for backward classes, the official added. Sources said the money was diverted despite social welfare minister Rajkumar Badole’s opposition and the state issued the GR without the consent of the social welfare department.

However, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the funds were diverted, but the money used is from the additional allocation made for the respective departments.

“It is insensitive to divert the budget meant for Dalits and tribal for other works. We are not against the loan waiver, but the government should have made a separate budgetary provision for it. There is unrest in both the communities over the decision,” said Dalit writer Arjun Dangale.

The social welfare department has prepared a draft notification to make amendment in the existing law to prohibit diversion or lapses of the budget meant for backward classes.

“The draft notification is yet to be cleared by the finance and planning departments. Once approved, it will need cabinet’s nod and amendment by both the houses of the legislature,” said an official from the finance department said.

We learnt about the diversion [of funds] during the monsoon session after the supplementary budget was tabled. This is highly objectionable,” said Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition in legislative council. 

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 23:41 IST