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Analysis

Less than 30% of Nirbhaya Fund utilised: RTI reply

The WCD Ministry had issued a clarification on the utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund after repeated reports of its underutilisation were published.

Photo Cridit : DNA India

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Less than 30 per cent of the much-hyped Nirbhaya Fund, that now has run up to Rs 3,100 crores, has been utilised so far in the last five years despite tall claims by the government on women’s safety and welfare in the country, an RTI reply has revealed.

The government, in the Union Budget that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented on February 1, proposed to pump in another Rs 500 crore into the non-lapsable corpus fund that was launched in the aftermath of nationwide outrage over the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman — given the moniker Nirbhaya, or fearless, by the media — in the capital on December 16, 2012.

In response to a RTI query by IANS, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) said only Rs 825 crore has been utilised from the Nirbhaya Fund — which was named after the woman — till date out of the Rs 2,711 crore that accumulated in 2017-18.

Till January 2018, 21 proposals have been appraised by the WCD Ministry, of which 17 have been implemented.

The RTI query revealed that only Rs 50 crore has been utilised by the Railway Ministry, which was given Rs 500 crore from the fund for its proposal — Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERMS).

The WCD Ministry had proposed seven schemes under the Nirbhaya Fund where the majority of the fund was allotted to One Stop Centres (OSCs) — a much-hyped scheme which was started in 2015. But it too remains unutilised. The reply said that only Rs 81 crore from the Rs 458 crore allocated has been disbursed in three years.

The OSCs are supposed to provide access to services like medical aid, police assistance, legal aid and psycho-social counselling to victims of sexual assaults.

The RTI also revealed that in another scheme, Women’s Helplines, for which Rs 156 crore was allocated, only Rs 21 crore has been disbursed.

Nine of the schemes come from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), of which seven have been initiated. The total fund allocated for MHA is Rs 1,273 crore, out of which Rs 554 crore has been utilised.

Two heavy budget schemes recommended by MHA — ‘Creation of Investigative Units for Crime against Women’ (IUCAW) (Rs 324 crore) and ‘Safe City Project’ in Odisha (Rs 110 crore) remain untouched, the RTI reply reveals.

According to the reply, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had also forwarded three schemes, of which the funds for one — training women to drive heavy passenger vehicles in Bengaluru (Rs 56 crore allocated) — has been unused.

The responsibility of the Nirbhaya Fund went to the WCD, which replaced MHA as the nodal ministry in 2015 after questions were raised on the utilisation of the sanctioned amounts. However, even under WCD, a majority of the fund remains unutilised.

Even last year, the WCD Ministry had issued a clarification on the utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund after repeated reports of its underutilisation were published.

According the ministry, other states and ministries were requested and reminded in August last year to send in innovative proposals that can enhance the security and safety of women, but no details have been provided by WCD.

While acting NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma maintained her silence of the use of the Nirbhaya Fund stating that it is not its responsibility to follow up on the various schemes, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, former NCW Chairperson, told IANS that the funds have not been utilised properly.

“The funds have not been utilised properly by the ministry whereas it should have been done — a long time back. Now WCD is considering utilising the fund. There are good people now in the ministry; they should hurry up,” Kumaramangalam stated.

Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research India (CSRI) had pointed out that allocating Rs 500 crore to the Railways for its IEMRS scheme was a poor step.

“Railways is a well-established ministry which can afford to set up CCTV cameras; it doesn’t make sense to use the Nirbhaya Fund for it. In any case, the cameras are hardly monitored,” Kumari added.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

Analysis

Hindu migrants from Pakistan living a life of homeless wanderers, courtesy Indian red-tapism

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Hindu migrants from Pakistan,

Jodhpur, Aug 14 : At a time when the world is battling one of its biggest refugee crises, India has its own share of the problem — thousands of Hindu migrants from Pakistan remain stranded at this Rajasthan transit hub. They have been awaiting their citizenship papers for years, despite submitting their passports, documents and hard-earned money too.

Although the world observed International Refugee Day in June, these migrants continue to run from pillar to post to check their status as a callous Indian bureaucracy works at its own inefficient pace unmoved by their plight.

Wandering like a nomad, one of these migrants, Anumaal, told IANS: “Our lives have become deplorable since the time we came to India. The longing to be a part of this country forced me to come here. But since then, from the year 2000 in April, we have been making untiring efforts to get citizenship, but to no avail.”

“My son has completed his 12th, but he couldn’t get admission in any college as the authorities demand domicile certificates and other identity proof. Eventually, he started working as a labourer to ensure we don’t die of hunger. His future has become dark and the same will be the case with my other son who is pursuing his 12th. Eighteen years of running from here to there has failed to bring any result for us,” he lamented.

“In a camp organised in the year 2005, we missed submitting our certificate by a day. The officials asked us to come with a certificate but it being a Saturday, we reached on Monday and since then, our grievances remain unheard,” Anumaal added.

“We surrendered our passports, our forms were duly filled, and they asked us to come along with a certificate. However, when we reached on Monday, we were informed that we can’t be given citizenship as they had received fresh instructions from the government. Since then, we have been meeting district collectors… the home secretary too, but to no avail. We have exhausted all our savings to pay these officials. We have even borrowed money, which has now exhausted. Now we are asked to fill in fresh forms and deposit fresh fees. When asked about the money we had already deposited, the officials said its gone, so forget about it and make a fresh start.

“There are many people like me who are running around in distress. We were doing agriculture in Pakistan but here we are forced to work as labourers. Initially, during partition, we lost our ancestral land which was seized by residents of Pakistan. Most of the Hindus lost their lands at that time. Now this is the second time we are losing a lot. We were initially in Jaisalmer. However, we left the place a long time back because of the water crisis. It is an irony that people consider us as Pakistanis now, which is quite sad to hear,” he added.

Then there is Dr Rajkumar Sharma, who practises medicine and was whose citizenship was confirmed on June 17. He said, “We came to Jodhpur in 2004. Since then, we have been working hard to make a decent living. There are thousands like me who have come here, their passports have been submitted, but they are yet to get their citizenship. The major challenge for them is getting a long-term visa (LTV) which gets stuck in red tapism,” he added.

Sharma said that he, being educated, managed to earn his bread and butter. “But when I think of other people like me who have migrated, I have tears in my eyes. They are really suffering. People refuse to give them a house on rent or a job to earn considering them as Pakistanis. More than 1,000 people are awaiting their long-term visas,” he informed.

“I belonged to Sindh and came here as Muslims were not so kind to Hindus in Pakistan. Radicalism was growing and so was their influence. Although we had land there, we preferred coming here leaving everything as we knew that things might become challenging in the coming days for Hindus,” he said, adding: “Now, when I have got citizenship, I will try to clear the Medical Council of India examination so that I can start my practice here.”

Dr Hindu Singh Soda, an activist for Pakistani minorities living in India, said that the number of Total Registered Migrants (TRMs) at various FROs in Rajasthan is 13,623. Of them, 12,253 are at FRO Jodhpur alone. Of them, 3,408 were granted LTVs in 2017 while rest of the applications are still under process.

On paper, an LTV is supposed to be granted within 120 days of applying; but in almost all cases, these are not granted for many years, he said, adding that 965 migrants were permanently sent back to Pakistan in 2016 and 2017.

Soda said red-tapism is to be blamed for this situation. Also, the processing of LTVs needs to be hastened to ensure the migrants get justice in India — a land for which they have left everything in Pakistan, he added.

(Archana Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

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Analysis

Kerala floods: Here’s how Twitter can save you from fake news

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iduki

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) If you are in Kerala and are affected by the devastating floods, using Twitter may help you steer clear of fake news.

When communication services are limited and internet connectivity is poor, using the data-friendly “Twitter Lite” can help you connect easily with government agencies, relief organisations, media and volunteers.

One just needs to use hashtags such as #KeralaFloods, #KeralaFloods2018 to find information regarding relief operations, such as locations of relief centres.

Other hashtags such as #OpMadad can help with aid or rescue and #KeralaFloodRelief for raising funds for Kerala flood survivors.

To keep abreast with latest information, you can track Twitter “Moments” which is available in over 40 languages and can also be accessed offline.

“Moments” are curated stories showcasing the most relevant tweets for what’s happening on the micro-blogging site.

One can also create a chronological account of the situation and curate relevant tweets, which can serve as a point of reference later on.

Further, tracking government agencies like the National Disaster Response Force (@NDRFHQ) Indian Navy (@indiannavy), Press Information Bureau (@PIBIndia), the Chief Minister of Kerala (@CMOKerala), and the Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) can help get the latest news from trusted sources, as and when it happens.

Avoid sharing information that you are not able to verify and after receiving the help you need, make sure you update your tweet to save time and avoid duplication of effort.

The northern and central parts of the state have been battered by heavy rains since August 8, causing one of the worst floods in its history and have until now claimed 29 lives and left 54,000 homeless.

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Analysis

CAG blasts defence PSUs for delays and defective items

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CAG

NEW DELHI: From failing to meet the Army’s UAVs requirements to defective and life threatening parachutes and critical quality problems in the Pinaka rocket systems, the Comptroller and Auditor General has come down heavily on India’s state-run defence research and production sector.

In a report tabled this week in Parliament, the CAG states that two types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) could not be inducted into the Army due to severe delay in their development by the DRDO. Among issues listed are problems with the airframe, engine and payload that have impacted the Army’s aerial surveillance capability. In a particular model’s case, all four trial unmanned planes were lost to crashes.

The auditor has said that Ordnance Parachute Factory Kanpur met production targets for parachutes only in five instances out of 49 analysed and faced complaints from the forces. This led to a critical shortage that adversely affected the operational preparedness of the two forces such as grounding of aircraft and efficiency of paratroopers.

The CAG also highlighted quality problems in Pinaka rockets for the Army such as excessive short ranging, bursting of rockets and burning chunks of propellants. But two Failure Analysis Boards could not pinpoint the exact problem in the manufacture of the rockets. With this, the CAG stated that the production of the rockets has not fully stabilised.

Detailing problems with the ‘Nishant’ UAVs, the CAG pointed out that they failed to meet any requirements of the Army and all four given for trials crashed within three years of receipt. “Army found it unsuitable due to its inadequacy in meeting the surveillance requirement of the Strike Corps, because of its poor mission reliability, long preparation time and defect prone quality. All the four UAVs crashed within three years of their receipt. Only one UAV ordered was replaced by the DRDO, which also crashed in November 2015 due to failure of parachute recovery system,” reads a CAG report.

In regard to parachutes, the CAG found that as the ordnance factory did not meet production targets, there were significant shortfalls in Pilot Parachute for Mirage 2000 aircraft, Pilot Parachute Chest Type, Paratrooper Tactical Assault (Main) and Brake Parachute for Sukhoi-30 aircraft.

The CAG also said that 730 parachutes valued at `10.80 crore did not achieve specified quality parameters but were passed by state run units with deviations.

“Though the users (army and air force) expressed serious concern on the nature of the defects having flight safety implication and high risk in man dropping activity, undue delays in rectification or replacement of defective items by the ordnance factory led to critical deficiencies at the user’s depot and field units,” said the reports.

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