Budgetary 'Untouchability': Activists

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New Delhi, Mar 4 (UNI) Three days after Finance Minister P Chidambaram unveiled his 2008-09 budget proposals, he was accused today of having denied scheduled castes 71 per cent of their due.

''This exposes the stark untouchability that is being practi(s)ed by the finance ministry and in the whole union budget,'' a group calling itself National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights charged in a statement.

Campaign activists were alluding to a 27-year-old Special Component Plan government officials call a ''major'' scheme for economic advancement of Scheduled Castes.

''This trend is observed for the last 27 years since the inception of Scheduled Caste Sub Plan-- earlier Special Component Plan-- in 1979-80.

''The Union as well as State governments are making a mockery of the guidelines and have blatantly violated the directions,'' the Group said.

Last year, the Campaign and several other groups filed a writ petition before Delhi High Court which indicated however that this being a matter of fiscal policy, Court could not interfere with the government.

The Group said the total budget allocation under Plan Outlay for 2008-2009 being Rs 2,43,385.5 crore, the government ought to allocate Rs 40090.90 crore exclusively for Dalits under the SC Sub Plan-- as 16.7 per cent of the total plan budget.

''But it has allocated just Rs 11715.07 crore-- 29 per cent of the total due under the SCSP-- for the welfare of SCs, which means again SCs have been deprived by Rs 28375.9 crores.

''This year again it has diverted 71 per cent of the amount SCs are due to receive under the SCSP.'' It said the sum could have helped give ten million SC children access to education besides setting up 100,000 rural health centres, 200,000 small scale industries and providing 500,000 SC families five acres of land each.

''Had this Special Component Plan been implemented in the last 27 years, India would have been totally free of poverty,'' the Group claimed.


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