The Mukhya Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Nirmal Basti Yojana was launched in the year 2008 with the aim of providing funds to support and improve the civic infrastructure for the Scheduled Castes and Backward classes at the village level.
Like all schemes launched by the Hooda government, this scheme too has had its share of misuse, wherein the funds have not really reached the section that they were intended for. In addition the amount sanctioned is very small and cannot make much visible difference to improving the quality of life of the targeted section.
In the 12th Plan period (2012-2017), the total budget allocated under this project head is Rs 24,500 lakh.
During FY 12-13, the annual expense incurred was Rs 6,088.72 lakh, while in FY 13-14, the amount spent was reduced to Rs 5,363 lakh. The proposed outlay for FY 14-15 is further reduced to Rs 4,918 lakh.
As you can see that each year for the last three years the amount allocated has actually been coming down! This completely demolishes all claims of the Hooda government to making the upliftment of the SC & BC categories its top priority. The action undertaken tells a different story. And even the amount released has yet another story hidden within. Read on.
According to the Development & Panchayats Department, Government of Haryana, the funds released could be used for any of the following activities, as per priority determined by the Gram Panchayat.
The scheme offers the option to build a drainage system for disposing off waste water. While this is a major problem faced by all people, this program is directed towards addressing the needs of the scheduled castes and backward classes.
The streets could be paved with concrete paver blocks for smoother movement of people and material, given the poor state of roads in villages.
There is a major problem faced by people with regard to supply of clean drinking water, therefore the government has permitted the laying of drinking water pipelines from distribution source to people's homes. The work is supposed to be executed by the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation.
The village could also use the funds to build a chaupal for community use.
The Shamshan Ghat in many villages is located in an open area; therefore the people have been demanding that a boundary wall be built to segregate the area from the rest.
The funds could also be used for building a community centre or Panchayat Ghar.
The above are the guidelines laid out, as per the Development and Panchayats Department. According to the department, the Gram Panchayat is free to decide on how to invest the total budget given, on any or all of the above mentioned activities.
Flaw in the system
The Hooda administration is notorious for creating media hype and announcing big plans that supposedly help the poor and underprivileged but in most cases, on a closer look, one can see through the hype and realise its mostly lip service. In most cases the allocated funds do not reach the intended end user.
Take this project itself. In 2008, it was announced with much fanfare that this was a scheme directed towards improving the quality of life of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes in Haryana and the project name itself confirms that.
However, a closer look above shows that the stated objectives are very ambiguous and there is enough scope for the funds to be utilized for general purpose rather than specifically used for the benefit of the SC & BC categories.
Firstly, why has the government included areas like pavement paving to be carried out of this fund? Isn't that supposed to be part of the general village development? How does this help the SC & BC category specifically?
Secondly, how does building a chaupal in the village benefit or improve the lives of the targeted communities? A chaupal is certainly desirable in the village and there is no disputing that but why should funds meant for the SC & BC category be used for this purpose?
There is little chance that the Gram Panchayat will utilize the funds entirely for the select SC & BC category people and use the same for much needed works for general purposes, thereby, defeating the very purpose for which the funds have been provided.
In account book summary statements, the government will show the funds released and utilized for SC & BC categories and then use the same figures to announce to the people how much good work the administration has done to alleviate the sufferings of the underprivileged category.
This is pure misutilization of funds. But then it was the state government that left the window open by including general purpose works, which should have been specifically and only deployed for the SC & BC categories. This is not happening.
Unfortunately, the Department website has no information published that shows how the funds have been utilized in each Gram Panchayat, each year since its launch, and who the specific beneficiaries were.
The fact is that in almost every village, the dominating community corners most of the direct and indirect benefits of government funding, leaving very little funds for deployment for the benefit of the under privileged classes.
There is an underlying fear and hesitation amongst the SC & BC classes to raise their voice or demand fund allocation from the Gram Panchayat, which wields a lot of power. Therefore, there is very little chance that the utilization of these funds would be deployed only for these classes, which was the initial objective, in the first place.
If an independent audit is carried out on the fund utilization and specific beneficiaries of the project, the above mentioned reality would be validated. This is the ground realty at the village level in Haryana.
The Hooda administration is fully aware of this, therefore, this brings forth the question as to why did the Hooda government include general purpose works to be included under this project? It is obvious that this is playing politics under the garb of social reform.
The government shows how much it has done to help the underprivileged and get their vote, while in reality, the general class beneficiaries are the ones who get maximum benefit and ultimately give their vote to the ruling party. The Hooda administration is playing both sides to its advantage and using state funds for this purpose.
Lack of transparency
In fact, the Development and Panchayats Department website offers a link under the Budget section that reads:
STATEMENT SHOWING ACTUAL EXPENDITURE INCURRED DURING THE LAST 5 YEARS
STATEMENT SHOWING THE BUDGET ESTIMATES OF 2011-2012
Neither of the links work and therefore no information is available to the public. Why is this so? Why is the Department not aware that the links are not functional, unless of course it is deliberate?
Secondly, why does the site only show the Statement for 2011-2012 and not for each year till date? Why is the state government holding back information and who is responsible for this?
The present Hooda government has spent 10 years presenting a pseudo image of themselves as one that has undertaken a lot of social development efforts, when closer look at various schemes reveal another picture altogether.
It's time the people woke up and saw through this facade. It's time for the people to demand their right and force the state government to do what it should be doing i.e. serving the people. It hasn't happened so far and now there is little chance it will happen anytime in the future.
The time for change has come. The time for a Naya Haryana is here.