Syed Junaid Hashmi
8 MLAs and two powerful cabinet ministers yet funds worth crores of rupees released by central government under tribal sub-plan remain unutilised, are often diverted and thus, have failed to ease the hardships of Gujjar-Bakkarwal tribe across the state.
The creamy layer among the Gujjars and Bakkarwals has no doubt reaped benefits is enjoying prime positions in various department in Jammu and Kashmir but the deprived lot has suffered immensely and there is no end to their sufferings and miseries despite Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs releasing funds worth crores of rupees to ameliorate their lot. The nodal Ministries for Education and Health failed to monitor the utilisation of funds released under TSP.
These spine chilling revelations about misuse and diversion of funds besides non-serious approach of state government towards the utilisation of the funds meant for Gujjars and Bakkarwals have been made by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its audit report on the performance of the tribal sub-plan across the country including Jammu and Kashmir. CAG has looked into the funds allocated to Ministries of Education and Health under the tribal sub-plan and their subsequent utilisation by these two ministries.
It has looked in-depth into the performance of these two ministries in utilising funds under the tribal sub-plan. According to the audit report, under the centrally sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), District level offices had not utilized the funds allocated to them under Tribal Sub-plan and there was shortfall in utilization of SSA funds during 2011-12 ranging between 19 % and 46%, 2012-13 17 % and 61 % and 2013-14 15 % and 35%.
Similarly under Mid-day meal scheme, funds received from central government under TSP (2011-14) were not be utilized in full. The unutilised funds ranged between 33% to 65% during these three years with education ministry being completely unaware of this huge shortfall. In the case of another centrally sponsored scheme RAMSA, during years 2011-14 against total release of Rs. 453.27 crore, education department could utilize only Rs. 394.15 crore. Utilised and unutilised amounts ranged between 38% and 81% during 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Showing callousness and non-serious attitude towards the tribal population, J&K government preferred not releasing the matching share of under RAMSA. Against release of Rs. 19.7 2 crore; 2011-12-nil, 2012-13, Rs. 6.39 crore and 2013-14, Rs. 13.33 crore under Tribal Sub-plan, state has did not release its 25% share separately under TSP. This is despite the fact that the population has huge number of representatives both in the government and outside yet the ST population faces worst kind of administrative discrimination.
Government of India even funded the education of teachers who would go on to teach the tribal children. Under the Teacher Education Scheme (TES), during the period 2011-14, District Institute of Education and Trainings (DIETs) in the audited districts had not utilize the funds in full and shortfall in utilization of funds during 2011-12 & 2012-13 ranged between 0% to 100% and in 2013-14, 54% to 100%. On being asked, the DIET officials told the audit teams that they were unaware of these funds being available with them under tribal sub-plan.
Audit observed that there was shortfall in training of ST teachers in three districts (0-100 per cent) i.e. Reasi (100 per cent) Anantnag (43 to 50 per cent), Leh (65 to 70 percent). Further, the two districts which have highest ST population i.e. Rajouri and Poonch have no data indicating total number of Gujjar-Bakkarwal teachers available in these twin districts nor specific data about number of ST teachers trained in DIETs. Audit observed that Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns were not organised for creating awareness among public about TSP.
No camps were organized and no mass media and community education w as carried out. During examination of records and data in the test checked districts with significant ST population, audit observed inordinate delays in payment of Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) incentives, inadequate encouragement of institutional deliveries, shortage of health institutions in hilly/tribal areas in and absence of infrastructure in areas inhabited by Gujjars and Bakkarwals.
These revelations raise serious questions on the selflessness of the Gujjar-Bakkarwal leaders whom this tribe votes to power now and then. It also questions the legal and moral standing of the champions of Gujjar cause who have of late become writers, critiques and politicians. It also busts myth that Gujjar leadership cares a lot for its poor and backward lot.