Scheduled Castes panel slams Punjab government



The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Tuesday expressed concern over the state of affairs in Punjab with regard to implementation of provisions of Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes Act.

Addressing media persons after review meetings with Punjab officials, NCSC chairman P.L. Punia said the state vigilance and monitoring committee, headed by the chief minister, had not held its meeting since 2006 even though it is required to hold a meeting every six months.

"Similarly, meetings at district levels are also not being held on a regular basis," Punia said.

He said financial assistance for Scheduled Castes under various schemes were not being utilised properly in Punjab.

Punia pointed out that due to reports of funds spent under the Scheduled Caste Special Component Plan released by the central government not being submitted for 2010, Punjab has not got funds from 2011 till 2014.

Incidentally, Punjab has the highest percentage population of Dalits at nearly 31 percent.

Punia said that as per norms, 32 percent of plan funds needed to be assigned for plans related to Scheduled Castes.

"The state government had agreed that it could assign only 28 percent funds, but in actuality, the funds being spent exclusively for SC related schemes were meagre two percent," Punia said.

Punjab has a Bharatiya Janata Party-Akali Dal alliance government since 2007.

"Another serious lapse noticed by the commission was non-filling up of 20,000 backlog vacancies in the SC category. The state government's attention has been drawn towards this. On the atrocities against SC people too, delays have been noticed in filling of FIRs, as well as in trials leading to very low conviction rate," he said.

The Punjab government claimed that the commission lauded the initiatives taken in the field of governance reforms, especially of 'Saanjh Kendras' and the 181 police helpline for helping curtail harassment of people in public offices. - IANS