SC/ST welcome budget, skeptical if allocations will be directly beneficial
The absence of any provision to speed up processing of claims under the 2006 Forest Rights Act was also a point of concern, the activists noted.
Activists from the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) communities welcomed on Saturday the increased allocation in the Union budget and special provisions for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers but said many earmarked schemes were unlikely to directly benefit them.
The absence of any provision to speed up processing of claims under the 2006 Forest Rights Act was also a point of concern, the activists noted. This came in the backdrop of a February order by the Supreme Court ordering the eviction of around 10 million tribespeople whose claims under the act, designed to protect the right of traditional forest-dwelling communities, had been rejected. “The absence of any financial commitment to the implementation of the Forest Rights Act seems to suggest that the government was not serious about tribals,” said Abhay Xaxa, an activist.
In her maiden budget speech on Friday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had extended entrepreneurial support programmes for SC-ST under the Stand Up India scheme, and flagged that providing dignity to manual scavengers was an aim of the government. “The Rs 110 crore allocated for manual scavenger rehabilitation is a welcome step. But we need disaggregated data to gauge impact,” said Beena Pallical of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights.
Activists criticised the lack of increase of money in higher-education scholarships for SC-ST students. “We welcome the increase in allocation for PM-Kisan but many SC-ST people are not farmers, and are landless…,” said Pallical.
“The budget is dedicated to the poor, underprivileged, backward, Dalits and women,” said Union social justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.