Dalit groups seek funds in proportion to population


New Delhi : Dalit groups Tuesday asked the union government to allocate funds in proportion to their population in the 2008-09 budget to step up the process of socio-economic and educational enhancement of the disadvantaged sections.

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N. Paul Divakar, national convenor of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), and Jai Bhagwan Jatav of the Rashtriya Shoshit Parishad (RSP) urged the government to earmark 22.5 percent of the total budget for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe communities.

“According to the 2001 census, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes account for 22.5 percent of the country’s population. Accordingly, funds should be earmarked for them in the coming union budget. We hope the government would not betray us in the fund allocation,” Divakar told reporters here.

“There is a need to put in place an effective mechanism to ensure that the funds are fully utilised for the welfare of Dalit communities,” Jatav said.

The budget session of parliament is scheduled to start Feb 25 and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will table the annual budget Feb 29. As the general elections are due in April next year, this will be the last full budget of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government during its five-year tenure.

Divakar said that there was an increasing trend to divert the funds meant for the Dalits at different levels even in the case of centrally sponsored schemes.

“Though we don’t name any state government or union ministry, our own assessment suggests that the funds meant for Dalits are not being spent on them,” he claimed.

The leaders also sought special attention on the entrepreneurship and skill development among the disadvantaged sections of the society along with extending health, educational and social security missions for them.