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Govt starts communal quota in development schemes

Govt starts communal quota in development schemes

Author: Akhilesh Suman
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 22, 2007

The Union Rural Development Ministry has taken the lead in awarding communal quota in the country's development programmes. The Ministry has demarcated separate fund for the minorities in its various ongoing programmes.

The programmes under which the minority quota has to be earmarked are Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana (SGRY) and Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), which are already under implementation without any discrimination on the basis of caste or religion.

According to the official statement, the Ministry "has revised the Indira Awaas Yojana guidelines for making provision for earmarking of funds for BPL minorities in each State."

An amount of Rs 581.20 crore has been earmarked for the minorities during the current financial year under IAY for construction of 2.30 lakh houses. The revised guidelines clearly state that district-wise allocation and targets were to be decided by each State on the basis of concentration of minorities in the districts.

However, the targets are to be achieved only out of the existing allocation of each district and no additional funds are provided for the purpose.

Similarly, under SGRY, Rs 290.39 crore has been earmarked for minorities.

Under SGSY, 1,63,660 persons (swarozgaries) are to be assisted from among minorities during 2006-07.

Interestingly, the letters in this regard were written to the State Governments in the beginning of this month and the sum earmarked for the minorities are to be spent during the current financial year ending March. This is a clear indication that the Government wants to take a political mileage out of it before the UP election.

Incidentally, UP is the biggest beneficiary of this demarcation due to its population of minorities. According to the guidelines, Rs 5,650.43 lakh have been earmarked for the minorities under SGRY, and Rs 11,938.04 lakh for IAY. The guidelines also give the number of target beneficiaries as 33,616 persons to be given under SGSY and 47,247 houses for minorities under IAY scheme.

The guidelines clearly state that the minorities include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. However in States, where national minorities are in majority, other minorities have to be given benefit under this guideline.

Accordingly, in Punjab Sikhs would not come under this, in Jammu and Kashmir Muslims would be excluded and in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram Christians would be out of this provision.

Incidentally, so far, no Union Ministry has come forward to implement Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 15-point programme for the minorities. Even the Reserve Bank of India declined to order its banks to grant loans on the basis of religion.

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