Par panel unhappy over reduced outlay for Soc Justice Ministry

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New Delhi, May 1 (UNI) Amid increasing demand for more attention to the social sector, the allocation to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been reduced in the Budget for 2008-09.

Noting this fact, a Parliamentary panel has said the reduction in the allocation would affect the achievemenet of targets in major schemes like Special Central Assistance to the Scheduled Castes Component Plan, Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Scavengers, Pre and Post Matric Scholarship for the OBC students, among others.

The Standing Commitee on Social Justice and Empowerment has noted in its 33rd Report that as against the projection of Rs 2726 crore, the Ministry was allocated only Rs 2400 crore.

Considering the Ministry's record of optimum utilisation of allocated funds, which is 98.85 per cent of the outlay during 2007-08 and to enable them to fulfill their mandate to the vulnerable sections of the society, the allocation should not have been reduced.

The Committee has also underlined the need of revising the amount of scholarship.

It said the rates under the schemes of pre and post-matric scholarship for children of those engaged in unclean occupations, post-matric and pre-matric scholarships for the OBC students and hostels for the OBC boys and girls were fixed in the 1990s, while the prices had increased manifold since then, so a revision in the scholarship amount was needed.

Moreover, the cost of construction has also gone up necessitating the revision of cost norms for the hostel scheme too, it said.

''In the opinion of the commitee, the revisions would help in minimising the gaps and disparities that exist in the general population and socialy disadvantaged groups,'' the Standing Committee said.

UNI NAZ SBC KN1518

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