Set Up For Women’s Safety And Welfare, Only 30% Of Nirbhaya Fund Has Been Utilised So Far
- IWB Post
- February 13, 2018
With news of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee planning on making Kolkata a ‘safe city’ for women with the Nirbhaya fund, the fund has again led to a debate. It had been much-hyped for its multiple utilizations which would ensure women’s safety and welfare in the country, but less than 30% of it has been used so far.
The fund was constituted soon after the brutal gangrape which took place on December 16, 2012, to ensure that such tragedies can be avoided if proper steps are taken. But in the last five years, the fund, which has run up to Rs 3,100 crore, has been rarely put to the use it was intended for. So, why did Finance Minister Arun Jaitley propose, during the presentation of the Union Budget, to pump in another Rs 500 crore into the non-lapsable corpus fund?
As per the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), only Rs 825 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund has been utilized till date. The revelation came to light when an RTI query was filed by IANS. Until January 2018, the WCD Ministry had appraised 21 proposals of which 17 have been implemented. The Railway Ministry has given Rs 500 crore for its proposal of Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERMS) of which only Rs 50 crore has been utilized.
Seven schemes have been proposed by the WCD Ministry under the Nirbhaya Fund. The scheme which included the establishment of One Stop Centres, which were supposed to provide services like medical, aid, legal aid, police assistance and counseling to victims of sexual assault, was allocated Rs 458 crore but only Rs 81 crore has been disbursed in three years.
Same is the case with another scheme, Women’s Helpline, where only Rs 21 crore has been disbursed of the allocated Rs 156 crore, as revealed by the RTI. It also reveals how two heavy budget schemes by Ministry Of Home Affairs (MHA) — ‘Creation of Investigative Units for Crime against Women’ (IUCAW) of Rs 324 crore and ‘Safe City Project’ in Odisha of Rs 110 crore have not come into action.
It was in 2015, when MHA, as the nodal ministry, was questioned on the utilization of the sanctioned amount that the responsibility of the Nirbhaya Fund went to the WCD, under which too, a majority of the fund remains unutilized.
While the National Commission Of Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma has stated that it is not their responsibility to follow up on various schemes, former NCW Chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam agrees that the funds have not been properly used.
“The funds have not been utilized properly by the ministry whereas it should have been done — a long time back. Now WCD is considering utilizing the fund. There are good people now in the ministry; they should hurry up,” Kumaramangalam said.