Underutilisation was observed in schemes relating to women’s welfare.
The reply to a right to information query filed by The Indian Express shows that many of the central government funds allocated for social welfare schemes remain underutilised, failing to achieve even the target of 75% expenditure. For instance, of the social justice ministry’s funds for post-matriculation scholarships for SC students—Rs 2,926.82 crore—only 59.15% was used in the first nine months of this fiscal. The same ministry was also allotted Rs 30 crore for coaching students belonging to the Other Backward Classes and Scheduled Caste communities, but as of January 3, only Rs 6.9 crore had been spent. Underutilisation was also observed in schemes relating to women’s welfare. The flagship Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme saw severe under utilisation—of the Rs 280 crore allocated, only Rs 43.94 crore (15.69%) has been spent so far. No expenditure was made from the Rs 201.21 crore-strong Nirbhaya Fund up till December 24. Also affected is the disabled community. The social justice and empowerment ministry was allotted Rs 41.21 crore for the National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation, of which the total expenditure till January 7 was zero, and only 25.38% of the Rs 3,289.21 crore allocated to the minority affairs ministry for welfare schemes were utitilised up till November 30.
The above mentioned schemes are only some of the programmes—there are more, including those under the health and education ministries—the RTI highlights. It is shocking, to say the least, that this is the status of schemes designed to ameliorate the pain of the weakest sections of Indian society. In a country where SCs/STs, OBCs, disabled persons, and women suffer the worst vulnerability to poverty and exploitation, and, thus, need support from the government the most, this failure to utilise funds is disheartening as it denies the beneficiaries the chance at a more secure life. The government needs to take note of this and make sure the funds are spent for the right causes, and don’t lie untouched, or worse, are mishandled.