The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has expressed serious concern over the state of affairs in Punjab State as regards implementation of provisions of Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes (PoA) Act. Addressing media persons after holding review meeting, NCSC Chairman, Dr. P.L. Punia said that State Vigilance & Monitoring Committee headed by the Chief Minister had not held its meeting since 2006 even though it is required to hold its meting every six months. Similarly meetings at district levels are also not being held on a regular interval.
The Chairman further said that the financial assistance of Rs. 434.07 lakhs under Scheduled Caste Special Component Plan released by the Centre in 2010 had not been properly utilized and the utilization certificate in this regards was not submitted so far, resulting in non-release of funds under this held to the state for the following years i.e. 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014. He also said that as per the norms, 32 % of plan funds need to be assigned for plans related to Scheduled Cates. The state government had agreed that it could assign only 28% but in actuality, the funds being spent exclusively for SC related schemes were meager two percent.
Shri Punia said that another serious lapse noticed by the Commission was non-filling up of 20,000 backlog vacancies in the SC category and state government’s attention has been drawn towards this. On the atrocities against SC people too, delays have been notice in filling of FIRs as well as in trials leading to very low conviction rate.
Shri Punia said that it has only recommendatory powers, through it has written to the President of India to make its recommendations binding on the states. Shri Punia however lauded the ‘Help line 181’ and ‘Sanjha Kendra’ effort of the state government in providing relief to people from this category, adding that he hoped that these measures were actually operating at the ground level. He further said that it had recommended for distribution of surplus 18000 acre of land is Punjab among Schedule Caste families.
On the status of UT Chandigarh, Shri Punia said that it was satisfactory. The Commission was in Chandigarh to have a Review Meeting for Punjab & UT of Chandigarh. It held deliberations with the people’s representatives and associations yesterday and with the top administrative officers of Punjab & Chandigarh today.
Besides Chairman, Dr. Raj Kumar Verka, Vice Chairman, Shri Raj Parmar, Shri Ishwar Singh, Ms. K.M. Kmalamma (all members) and Dr. Vinod Aggarwal, Secretary NCSC were also present.