By Krishna Jha
Each of the government plans has its own tragic story. One burning example is Tribal Sub Plan (TSP). Brain child of Planning Commission, it became Scheduled Tribe Component as the Planning Commission became NITI Ayog. The purpose was to provide compensation to mining affected adivasis uprooted from their home grounds that were mostly rich in mineral resources like coal, iron ore, the basics for industrial growth. Gesture showed empathy as every ministry was asked to contribute to the fund meant for the sub plan. The commission had asked the coal ministry to contribute eight per cent of the budget to TSP and to ministry of mines, four per cent. The fund was getting richer with every passing year.
Among the objectives of the TSP has been to look after the basic needs of the tribals, including livelihood, health, education and finally a roof on the head. But nothing gets visibility on the ground, though the money keeps pouring. Between 2011 and 2018, the records show that the money was spent, but never to serve the needs of the targeted masses. It never percolated to the lower depths where the adivasis spent their lives, though routinely forced to move out. The funds that have been meant for them are distributed among the coal companies like CCL, SCCL, MCL. The funds collected in the name of tribals get never spent to serve the interest of the adivasis, it is only to open the grounds for their peril.
In fact, the entire spending goes instead on regional exploration, detailed drilling and conservation safety, the jobs that are directly targeted at spotting the mines with minerals, safety of the mines and finally mining and digging the wealth from under the ground. It is blatantly obvious that these projects are meant to serve the interest of monopolies alone, who in their turn are least interested either in the progress of the country or its people. Institutions like Geological Survey of India received the funds meant for the tribals to find out the mineral treasures in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Nagpur, Jaipur, Shillong and several other areas. They spent the funds in mapping, surveying and to locate the exact point where the treasure could be found, which meant the inhabitants in those areas were soon to be uprooted. Their live were just superfluous junk and development could not be delayed for them!
In 2014-15, the budget grant from the ministry of mining was 1075.00 (all in lakhs) out of which, in the eastern region, basically in Kolkata, a sum of 276 was allotted and 275.79 was spent, in central region of Nagpur, 200 allotted and 199.89 spent, in western region, in Jaipur, 160 and 159.69, in southern region, in Hyderabad, 260 and 257.76, in northern region of Lucknow, 110.00, and 109.15, in north eastern region, in Shillong, 68.52, and 68.05, by the Geological Survey of India in the financial year of 2014-15.
Finally in 2017-18, the same process continued, of allotment and expenditure, but the welfare measures for the adivasis was never mentioned in the total scheme of things. In response to one of the RTI queries, it was said that coal ministry does not allot any fund directly to states, instead it forwards the fund to government coal companies, and Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Ltd (CMPDIEL) and till 2017- 18, had cleared Rs 205 crore for the same. In this period, CMPDIEL spent from this fund Rs 41 crore 59 lakh for promotional regional exploration, then more was spent on detailed drilling which amounted to Rs 82 crore 32 lakh. In the entire scenario, meant for the welfare of the tribals, only missing point is that of the tribals, they still wander homeless, starved, and slogging to keep the two ends together.
So far as the ministries that have to release funds for TSP are concerned, 2015 CAG report says that the fund has been released for such states that have according to 2011 census, no tribal population. Yojna Ayog had issued instructions that the fund not spent could be released to tribal welfare ministry, but no such step has been taken till today.
In last several years, attempts were contemplated to develop the handloom industry among the tribals, but in textile ministry, the TSP fund has only a meager share of 1.2 per cent of the annual budget. However, the claims were made that despite the meagre share, it has contributed 6.02 per cent, which is equal to 61 crore, 81 lakh, National Handloom Corporation also got 30crore, yet myth gets dispelled when in 2018, he reality got unveiled.
National Handloom Corporation had received no money on TSP. It has also come to light that the National Handloom Corporation had received a grant of 68. 27 crore in 2013-14, to develop and grow, but by 2017-18, this amount came down to 18.19 lakh, which shows the unconcern of the government towards the issues of unemployment among the tribals. Surprisingly, according to reports on the website of the NITI Ayog, in 2018, 20 organisations received TSP funds, but in response to RTI query, only 18.19 lakh was distributed among only four organisations and not twenty.
These are the facts that bring to light the bleakness and the consequent suffering that the masses in the country are going through. Yet despite the odds, and the horrors of the status quo, despair cannot be allowed to set in. Future is still there with its immense possibilities. (IPA Service)