House panel seeks new act to ensure proper use of tribal funds

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Economic Times, January 04, 2019

A Parliamentary panel has directed the government to stop diversion of funds meant for tribal welfare and frame a central Act to ensure funds reach beneficiaries, taking note of instances of diversion of Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) funds.

The parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment has asked the Centre to enact a law to ensure there was no diversion of TSP funds. It also asked ministry of tribal affairs to direct state governments to frame their own similar legislations. Under TSP, 41 central government ministries and departments are required to earmark 2-20% of their total budget outlay for tribal welfare.

The ministries identify targeted schemes and then earmark the funds scheme-wise to different states. “The Committee notes with utter disappointment that there are instances of diversion of TSP funds… The Committee recommends that a Central Act should also be in place to ensure non-diversion of TSP funds by various Ministries/Departments,” said the report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.The committee observed that state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka had enacted laws for utilisation and non-diversion of TSP funds. It has directed the ministry to ensure all other states follow the example.

During hearings before the committee, the tribal affairs ministry said that during its audits of human resource development ministry and health ministry, instances of diversion of TSP funds had been found. The report says, “Audit pointed out that TSP funds were being diverted and spent by HRD ministry for minority institutions like Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and that TSP funds were spent for ineligible States e.g. Punjab, Haryana etc.HRD ministry has, however, clarified that out of TSP fund allocated to Central Universities during 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, the UGC inadvertently released grants under SC/ST components proportionately including minority institutions of JMI and AMU. The funds were released by UGC and utilised by these two Universities. However, later on the same was discontinued from 2014-15, till date and no funds under SC/ST component have been released to these minority institutions.”

The parliamentary panel has also found that ministries are not earmarking funds as per their obligatory requirements. “The Committee are disappointed over the meagre allocation of funds by various important Ministries/Departments under TSP as compared to earmarked obligatory percentage of their total Scheme outlays in the years 2017- 18 and 2018-19 such as Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Department of Commerce and Department of Consumer Affairs,” the report says.

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