Dr. Udit Raj submits memorandum to Finance Minister

Dr. Udit Raj, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and National Chairman, All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations today met Hon’ble Minister of Finance, Shri Arun Jaitley regarding flaws in flaws in implementation of Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub Plan(TSP). Dr. Udit Raj demanded a comprehensive legislation on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh SC/ST Sub Plan Act, 2013 be passed in Parliament to codify the various improvements required for proper implementation of SCP and TSP. The All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations is an umbrella organization for SC/STs throughout the country, which Dr. Udit Raj represent as its National Chairman. If reservation ensures representation of SC/STs in governance and administration, then SCP and TSP ensure that their economic upliftment. Activists have for the past several years been highlighting ways in which SCP and TSP implementation has failed to achieve the necessary goals. I present below a list of areas which need to be acted upon immediately in the forthcoming General Budget to ensure that SCP and TSP do not continue to fail.

It has always been a demand that fresh guidelines should mandate earmarking of SCP/TSP funds from plan outlays at least 6 months before the commencement of the next financial year and schemes where benefits to SCs/STs are merely notional not be included in the Sub Plans. A specific institution should be setup at Centre and State levels to allocate SCP/TSP funds to the Ministries/Departments, duly taking into consideration the developmental needs of SCs/STs, so that Ministries/Departments can clearly show the schemes for the development of SCs/STs separately under the separate budget minor heads. The same institution should also be responsible for approvals and issue of sanctions and effective implementation and monitoring of the SCP/TSP. SCP/TSP funds should be deployed with particular focus on education, income generation and access to basic amenities in SC/ST localities in the country. Funds should be non-lapsable and non-divertible. SCP/TSP funds should be channelized only to such schemes where tangible benefits accrue to SC/ST individuals or households or groups or localities. Schemes taken up under the SCP/TSP should be closely monitored and the information should be hosted in the public domain so as to enable anyone to track every scheme, every household and every rupee spent under the schemes and social auditing of the schemes should also be facilitated. A separate unit should be created in the Niti Aayog under a Principal Advisor for SCP with adequate staff to appraise the Annual SCP Plans of Central Ministries/Departments, finalize the allocations and to evaluate the outcomes at the end of the financial year. This unit shall also be the Secretariat for the High Level Committee (HLC) in the Niti Aayog. In the Central Ministries/Departments, a dedicated nodal unit headed by a Joint Secretary or Economic Advisor should have the responsibility of preparation of the Annual SCP Plans, and also to monitor their subsequent implementation. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes(NCST) should be strengthened with adequate professional expertise and provided with supporting manpower to undertake independent evaluation of SCP schemes of the Central Ministries/Departments and to give feedback to these Ministries/Departments. The NCSC can also recommend schemes which have the potential to best address the development needs of SCs to the concerned Central Ministries/Departments for inclusion in their Annual SCP Plans. An apex body may be set up in all states/UTs with the Chief Minister of the State/UT as the Chairperson. Its duties shall include the formulation of policies, approval of the Annual SCP Plans of the state departments, and monitoring of the progress of SCP so as to take corrective measures for improving the performance of the departments. The Nodal Department may also be empowered to clear the schemes proposed by the departments under the SCP only if the schemes fulfill the criteria of securing direct benefits to SC individuals, households or localities.