Nirbhaya Fund is dud as most schemes remain on paper, money unspent

| Updated on: Jul 05, 2019

Maitri Porecha

Even years after the brutal Nirbhaya incident of 2013 that shocked the nation, most projects, which were to be instituted under the Nirbhaya Fund by various ministries, have not taken off fully and funds are lying grossly under-utilised with States. In such a situation, more funds may not be allocated to special schemes laid out for women.

According to a reply tabled in the Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Home Ministry was to start an Emergency Response Support System (ERSS), which is a pan-India single emergency number – 112– for all emergencies. No fund, however, was released for this project in 2014-15 and 2015-16, leading to low-utilisation rates and non-initiation of the scheme by States. In 2016-17, ₹217.96 crore was released. Subsequently in 2017-18, only ₹45.69 crore was released and only ₹14.96 crore in 2018-19. An analysis reveals that only 18 out of 36 States have utilised the ERSS funds. Collectively, these 18 States have utilised ₹59.56 crore. The rest, including the national capital of Delhi, where the Nirbhaya rape incident occurred, have not implemented it.




Another programme, Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC), seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. While the total outlay of the scheme was ₹ 223.198 crore, in 2017-18, ₹44.64 crore was released. In 2018-19, no fund was released, and the programme never took off, as no State started any of the projects under CCPWC, Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani stated in a reply to Parliament.

While 112 was meant to be the pan-India emergency number, another number 181 is solely proposed for women in distress. An analysis of State-wise budget utilisation break-up reveals that 15 out of 36 States have not utilised the funds to operationalise this helpline. In 2015-16, Delhi received ₹49.79 crore for the scheme, but that amount is lying unutilised. .

Most States have taken the task of establishing one-stop centres for women in distress seriously. Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Manipur and Union territories of Puducherry and Dadra Nagar Haveli are exceptions .

Nutrition is critical to the development of children, especially in the light of the recent Bihar tragedy. An analysis of the funds for Poshan Abhiyan revealed says of ₹2,555 crore released by Central and State governments in 2018-19, only ₹568.72 crore (22 per cent) was spent.

Published on July 05, 2019
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