The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said during the Parliament’s monsoon session that Rs. 11.80 crores are available as unutilised funds for providing rehabilitation to manual scavengers in the year 2020-21. However, it categorically says that these funds are exclusively for people identified as manual scavengers, and not all sanitation workers in general.
This was in response to questions raised by Member of Parliament Natrajan P. R. who asked the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment about the unutilised fund held under the Self Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS.) He also asked about the budget provision for the prohibition and rehabilitation of manual scavengers in the last three years.
To this the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said, “The implementing agency of the Scheme, National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) is having Rs. 11.80 crores as unutilised funds as on September 15 for providing rehabilitation benefits to the remaining identified manual scavengers and their dependents during the period of the current fiscal year.”
Regarding budget allocation of funds, he said Rs. 110 crores were allocated from the Budget under the Self Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) for 2020-21, although as of September 15, no funds have been released. In 2019-20 the same amount was allocated out of which Rs. 84.80 crores were released by the government. This was less than the funds released in 2018-19 when the full revised allocation of Rs. 85.76 crores was released.
When asked about the sanitation workers who had benefited under the scheme, Athawale said that workers who are not identified as manual scavengers are not eligible for the SRMS. However, according to government data, nearly 14,000 manual scavengers received one-time cash assistance in 2020-21. As of September 15, as many as 30 people received the capital subsidy for self-employment projects. This is a sharp drop from figures of previous years, and one wonders if this can, or should be attributed to Covid-19, given how sanitation workers have been on the frontlines, and should be seen as Corona Warriors, much like doctors, nurses or policemen.
In 2019-20, a little more than 13,000 people received one-time cash assistance, as many as 2,532 people received skill development training and 114 people received the capital subsidy for self-employment projects. Similarly, in 2018-19, one-time cash assistance was given to 18,079 people while 1,682 people received skill development training and as many as 151 people received money for self-employment projects.
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