The Legislative Council of Andhra Pradesh on 2 December 2012 had passed the historic Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (Planning, Allocation and Utilization of Financial Resources) Act, 2012. Through the passage of this bill Andhra Pradesh had become the first state to make such legislation, of all the states in the country by giving statutory status to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe sub-plans by ensuring allocation of funds to these sections in proportion to their population. The legislation would be helpful in ensuring the right to equality for SC and ST community apart from being effective in ensuring social security and a comprehensive development of the people of the community.
Historical background of the sub plan: The demand for according legal status to the Sub-Plans was made on states for a long time by the Planning Commission of India and National Development Council (NDC). The ST sub-plan was introduced by Indira Gandhi during 1975-76 and the SC sub-plan during 1979-80. In Andhra Pradesh after Sustained struggle waged by the “Kulavivaksha Vyatireka Porata Sangham (Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination)” and the CPI (M) has resulted in the enactment of a legislation to ensure proper implementation of SC/ST Sub-Plans.
Why do we need such legislation?The need for separate legislation was felt as funds allocated for SC, ST sub-plan were not utilized fully and efficiently, and have been used for other purposes including infrastructural development by almost all the parties that were in power in spite of Planning Commission’s guidelines on fund utilization. The state government recognized the need for legislation in place of guidelines, as funds were used even for Necklace Road works and cleaning of Hussain Sagar. As per the population, the government should allocate 16.23 pc funds in the budget for SCs and 6.6 pc for STs, but spending remained mostly on paper as the funds meant for them are diverted for other programmes. And in order to prevent diversion of sub-plan funds of SC and ST population for other activities and not to allow them unspent, the AP government has passed this historic bill. There is also a mandatory provision for allocation of almost a fourth of the State’s annual plan of the budget for SC, ST. The legislation will also ensure total utilization of funds allocated to these sections in the planned budget. A state council headed by the chief minister will release the funds and review the progress of utilization of funds. The council will meet at least twice in a year. State-level and district-level SC and ST sub-plans will also be prepared. Last year the state spent only 12.24 per cent for SCs and 5.98 per cent for STs. In the plan budget for 2012-13, as against the state allocation of Rs 8,657 crore under SC sub-plan and Rs 4,060 crore under ST sub-plan. The law would facilitate comprehensive development of SCs and STs and provide them protection and equality on par with other sections of society.
Why do we need a separate plan for SC/ST?It is since ages that there are worst forms of social oppression, economic exploitation and discrimination towards Dalits and Tribals in India. Even after 67 yrs after independence and after several attempts by the government, it is unable to curb the menace of discrimination and uplift the social, economic and status of SC/ST. Recently even the PM Man Mohan Singh accepted that SC/ST are subjected to discrimination and harassment in many parts of the country. And the money which is sanctioned towards the upliftment of the SC/ST is spent for other purposes or left unspent since ages. Thus depriving the legitimate rights for the upliftment of the SC/ST. In order to make better use of the resources and for the overall development of SC/ST a separate sub plan funds was considered as the need of the hour and the government was successful in passing the legislation. This legislation can be considered as first of its kind in the country.
What are these Sub-Plan funds?Sub-Plan funds are those that must be allocated to the SC/ST Nodal Agencies at the time of preparing the budget itself with a mandate to spend them exclusively for the welfare of Dalits and Tribals.
What is Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan?As general development programmes could not specially cater to their socio-economic upliftment and bring them on par with other sections of society, Special Component Plan (which was later renamed as Scheduled Caste Sub Plan) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) were formulated. The SCSP is an important intervention through the planning process for social, economic and educational development of Scheduled Castes and also for the improvement in their working and living conditions. It was started from the Sixth Five Year Plan period.
In accordance with the government policy all PSU’s under the administrative control of the Ministry makes allocation for various activities related to the welfare of the economic development of the SC/ST and people of the weaker sections in the neighbourhood of project locations through Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan which are as follows:
Issues raised before and after the passage of the bill:The opposition sought an amendment that the allocation of the funds should be based on ABCD groups within the SCs based on their populations and socio-economic conditions. The chief minister pointed out that in 2004 Supreme Court had struck down the classification of SCs into sub-groups as unconstitutional and said no fresh law could be passed in any form on the issue.
APCC president said that he would raise the issue of separate sub-plans for Backward Classes and the Minorities in the Assembly. He said that the BCs and the minorities should get their fair share in budget. His support for the separate budgetary allocation is similar to the demand by the MIM asking for sub-plan for the minorities.