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Karnataka to Divert  Rs. 11,000 Crore from SC/ST Welfare Plans to fulfil poll promises

The Karnataka Government is facing criticism for its decision to divert a significant amount of Rs. 11,000 Crore from the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan, which are meant for the welfare and development of SC/ST communities. The diversion was approved during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, where an action plan worth Rs. 34,293.69 crore was finalised under the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (SCSP-TSP). Initially, the Social Welfare Minister HC Mahadevappa denied the allegation, labeling it as “baseless.” However, he later admitted that Rs. 11,000 crore from the sub-plans has indeed been earmarked for the fulfillment of the government’s five pre-poll promises.

This move has sparked controversy, with the opposition BJP accusing the Congress government of misusing the funds intended for SC/ST welfare to implement their electoral guarantees. According to the Karnataka Government’s budget for the year 2023-24, it has allocated Rs. 21,342.96 crore for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Rs. 8,871.81 crore for the development of Scheduled Tribes. These allocations are part of the Total State Budget expenditure of Rs. 3.28 lakh crore. Among this, Rs. 1.42 lakh crore is dedicated to development, with 24.1% (equivalent to their population percentage) set aside for SC/STs, amounting to Rs. 34,221.49 crore. However, a closer examination reveals that only a small portion of the SCSP/TSP budget is directly benefiting the SC and ST communities. Specifically, Rs. 4,137.29 crore is allocated for SC Welfare schemes, and Rs. 1,477.35 crore is allocated for ST Welfare schemes, accounting for only 16% of the total SCSP/TSP Budget.

The decision to divert a significant amount from the SC/ST welfare plans to fulfill pre-poll promises has raised concerns about the government’s commitment to the welfare and development of Dalits and Tribals in Karnataka. Critics argue that this move could adversely affect the socio-economic upliftment of SC/ST groups and may lead to a breach of trust between the government and the marginalised sections of society.

The matter is now a subject of public debate and scrutiny, urging the authorities to reconsider their allocation decisions and prioritise the well-being of these vulnerable communities.

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