TN Untouchability Eradication Front Unveils Draft Law to Enhance SC/ST Sub-Scheme Implementation
A proposed draft Act was released. Image courtesy: Theekkathir
A draft law for streamlining the subsidiary schemes for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities was released by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) on Monday.
During his last budget session speech, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin announced that a special law for properly implementing the SC/ST sub-schemes would be brought in the next legislative session.
In this context, the TNUEF released the draft ‘Tamil Nadu Scheduled Castes Special Component Scheme and Scheduled Tribes Sub-Plan Fund (Programme, Allocation and Implementation) Act 2023’.
TNUEF president T Chellakannu, general secretary K Samuel Raj, deputy general secretary K Swaminathan, treasurer E Mohana, CPI(M) MLA V P Nagai Maali, and others released the ‘draft Act’ in Chepauk, Chennai. Retired Justice of the Madras High Court, D Hariparandaman, received the first copy.
The main objective of the proposed Act is to ensure necessary funds are allocated for the empowerment of SC/ST people, the funds are not diverted to other government projects, and they are spent with transparency. It stresses special attention to career, employment, and skill development for SC-ST people.
TNUEF leaders submitted the proposed law to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Shivdas Meena and the director of the Adi Dravidar and Tribal welfare department.
NEED FOR A LAW
Based on people’s demands, laws to formalise the sub-schemes were passed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Rajasthan. Thus, the duty to fulfil the schemes falls on the respective state governments. If there are gaps and inconsistencies, they can be questioned legally.
To enforce a similar law in Tamil Nadu, TNUEF held consultative meetings in Madurai, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, and Chennai. With the involvement of more than 40 dalit and human rights organisations, democratic movements, and the TNUEF, the draft law was finalised.
At the event, retired Justice Hariparandaman said, “This draft report has been released to give a legal framework for the state to allocate funds according to certain populations. Similarly, the Union government should give legal approval to the subsidiary schemes.”
Samuel Raj said, “An Act is needed if funds allocated for sub-schemes in Tamil Nadu are to be fully spent.”
Further, MLA Nagai Maali added, “I will bring this draft law directly to the attention of the senior ministers and department officials. We will coordinate with other legislature members and press to enact it in the next session.”
A 2013 report by the Indian Planning Commission, which reviewed the implementation of the SC/ST sub-schemes, revealed that the schemes have been flouted and it has failed to achieve their goals. To reduce the disparities and discrimination in all sectors between SC/ST and other community people, the Tribal Sub-Plan was introduced in 1979 and the Scheduled Castes Special Sub-Plan in 1974.
According to the 2022 Oxfam India report, the income of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in India is 41% less than that of the rest of the population. About 92% of SC/ST people living in rural areas of Tamil Nadu do not own land. More than 80% are agricultural labourers and engage in other marginal work. In the last ten years, 30,000 government jobs reserved for scheduled castes have remained unfilled.
TNUEF observed that the poor response to the sub-scheme indicates that the schemes require strong monitoring, and the front proposed the draft law accordingly.
TNUEF was established in 2008, and for the last 15 years, the front has carried out a series of activities demanding to give the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people their due share.
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