Ranchi, Feb. 28: Cheering indigenous people, Union finance minister P. Chidambaram today earmarked a larger tribal sub-plan outlay of Rs 24,598 crore against Rs 21,710 crore in the last fiscal.
But, given the poor implementation of schemes in the past and the lazy babu culture in Jharkhand, the question rankles whether the state would seriously spend its share to improve life and livelihood of its tribal population?
“A big chunk (nearly 50 per cent) of this sub-plan allocation is spent in Jharkhand on projects that are not even remotely related to tribal development. The Arjun Munda government had diverted Rs 35 crore for social forestry earlier this year,” claimed Mandar MLA Bandhu Tirkey.
During his budget speech today, the Union minister categorically mentioned that money under the tribal sub-plan should not be diverted under any circumstances. However, Tirkey pointed out that the same was rampant in Jharkhand, with funds being channelled for road construction and raising of new government buildings.
Around 26 per cent of Jharkhand’s people are tribals and most of them are still living in penury. Many educated tribal youths are unemployed and hence are weaned away by rebel outfits. Schemes under the sub-plan can go a long way to change things in the state.
The plan is meant to better livelihood means in tribal pockets through rainwater harvesting, horticulture, dairy development, poultry farms, goat rearing, lac cultivation, fisheries and pig farming.
In 2011-12, the Centre had allocated Rs 18,486 crore for tribal development. Over the last three years, the money under this head has only increased, but tribals have languished below the poverty line.
Experts say Jharkhand should set aside exactly the same percentage of funds for its plan head as is the percentage of the tribal population. The practice was followed in undivided Bihar.
Currently, the state sets aside only five per cent of its total budgetary allocation for the tribal sub-plan every year, which was Rs 800 crore this fiscal.
In 2012-13, the Centre had earmarked Rs 2,981.72 crore under the sub-plan to Jharkhand, which made about 13 per cent of the total budgetary allocation of Rs 21,710 crore. Thus, in the coming financial year, the state is expected to get around Rs 3,100 crore.
“The size of allocation is not proportionate to development of tribals. Diversion of funds is the bottleneck,” summed up noted economist and Ranchi University professor Ramesh Sharan.