Home » News » Business » Union Budget 2018: Dear FM, Please Stop Feeding Nirbhaya Fund; It Remains Un-utilized
4-MIN READ

Union Budget 2018: Dear FM, Please Stop Feeding Nirbhaya Fund; It Remains Un-utilized

By: Aishwarya Kumar

News18.com

Last Updated: February 01, 2018, 08:33 IST

Network18 Creatives

Network18 Creatives

Similarly, the Home Ministry’s project on Organized Crime Investigative Agency was appraised at Rs 83.20 crore, out which nothing has been spent.

New Delhi: Just a few hours from now, Arun Jaitley will announce the Union Budget for 2018-19. While women issues have been a priority in all budgets, this year we’re hoping that the Finance Minister doesn’t announce another heavy investment into the Nirbhaya fund.

The corpus was announced in Budget 2013, months after the gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student which triggered outrage across India and led to tougher laws against rape and sexual harassment. The fund was announced with an initial amount of Rs 100 crore and was aimed at implementing initiatives to enhance safety of women. Since then, subsequent allocations have been made to the fund.

In Budget 2014-15, the government pumped in Rs 1,000 crore, in 2016-17 it was cut down to Rs 550 crore and the same amount was allocated in 2017-18 as well. The total corpus now stands at Rs 3,100 crore. The fund, however, has seen a very lackadaisical utilization over the years. It is important to note that the fund is a non-lapsable corpus.

The Ministry of Home Affairs told Parliament a month ago that 18 projects that have been approved under the Nirbhaya funds have not utilized the funds allocated to them.

ALMOST 50% FUNDS LYING UNUSED

As per data released by the Home Ministry, various projects under different ministries have not even used half the funds allocated to them in all these years.

One such example is the Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERMS) under the Ministry of Railways. The project was to provide 24x7 security to women across railway stations, strengthen security control rooms, deploy more Railway Police Force (RPF) and install CCTV cameras. The project was appraised at Rs 500 crore, out of which a meager Rs 50 crore has been used so far.

The Home Ministry’s Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children project was appraised at Rs 195.83 crore, out of which only Rs 82 crore has been utilized. Similarly, the Ministry’s Investigative Unit for Crime Against Women was appraised at Rs 324 crore, but none of that has been used.

Interestingly, the Ministry said that the project has been dropped, reasons for which were not mentioned.

The project was proposed by the Home Ministry in January 2015 with 50:50 partnership involving state governments in most crime-prone districts. It aimed “to investigate cases referred to them, augment the investigative machinery of the States in relation to the heinous crimes against women, especially Rape, Dowry Death, Acid Attack and Human Trafficking, instill confidence and encourage women to come forward and lodge their complaint and improve the gender ratio in the State Police forces (sic).”

Similarly, the Home Ministry’s project on Organized Crime Investigative Agency was appraised at Rs 83.20 crore, out which nothing has been spent.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s Abhaya Project, which was proposed by the Andhra Pradesh government to ensure safety of women and children during transport, was appraised at Rs 138.49 crore, but only Rs 58.64 crore has been used.

Delhi Police’s Special Unit for Women and Children was appraised at Rs 23.53 crore, out of which a meager Rs 2.35 crore has been spent. Similarly, its project to hire professional counselors was evaluated at Rs 5.07 crore, out of which only Rs 0.05 crore (Rs 5 lakh) has been utilised.

A project for ensuring women safety in public transport by the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) was assessed at Rs 83.50 crore, out of which only Rs 40.20 crore has been used.

The Safe City Project in Bhubaneshwar by the government of Odisha was appraised at Rs 110.35 crore and none of that money has been utilised so far.

WITH RISING CRIME, UTILIZATION UNDER SCANNER

The under-utilization or no utilization of Nirbhaya fund has now come under the radar of the Supreme Court. The apex court has asked the states to reveal the amount they’ve received under the Nirbhaya fund and to apprise the court of how the money has been disbursed to victims of sexual assault.

The court observed that it was a sad “state of affairs” that there was no record of how many victims of sexual assault had received compensation and to what extent. The Supreme Court bench will review the same on February 15.

This was not the first time that utilization under the huge corpus fund had come under attack. In 2016, a parliamentary Standing Committee slammed the Ministry of Women and Child Development over the slow implementation of schemes under the Nirbhaya fund.

Furthermore, a report by the Centre for Development and Human Rights (CDHR) stated that lengthy inter-ministerial coordination for project approval had created problems in implementation of Nirbhaya fund schemes.

Even as there seem to be bureaucratic loopholes and severe under-utilization, statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) continue to paint a dismal picture of women safety and security across the country. Crimes against women increased from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016. Similarly, crimes against children rose from 94,172 in 2015 to 1,06,958 in 2016. Uttar Pradesh reported 14.5% (49,262 out of 3,38,954 cases) of total cases of crimes against women, followed by West Bengal at 9.6% (32,513 cases) during 2016. Delhi reported the highest crime rate (160.4) compared to the national average rate of 55.2.
first published:February 01, 2018, 07:18 IST
last updated:February 01, 2018, 08:33 IST