The Narendra Modi government at the Centre, which has been highly vocal about women security and empowerment, has failed to spend even half of the Nirbhaya Fund since 2015, government data revealed.
As per the data, the corpus transferred to the Public Account for the Nirbhaya Fund up to 2018-19 was Rs 3,600 crore out of which since 2015, the BJP-led central government was only able to release Rs 1,513.40 crore till December 2018.
The then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at Centre announced the funds in 2013 after the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi on December 16, 2012.
The Central government has announced to dedicate a specific amount for the security of women. with an initial corpus of Rs 1,000 crore in 2013-14. The similar amount was added in 2014-15. In 2016-17 and 2017-18 Rs 550 crore each were added in the fund. In 2018-19, Rs 500 crore was allocated for the fund.
Named ‘Nirbhaya Fund’, the non-lapsable corpus fund parked with the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, were for the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security for women in the country.
At least 26 projects were approved and funded through this, including 11 proposals from the Home Ministry, eight from the Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD), three from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, two from Ministry of Railways, and one from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and IIT Delhi, and one from the Department of Justice.
“In total, the amount appraised by the Empowered Committee (EC) for these schemes or projects was Rs 6,738.91 crore. Out of this, an amount of Rs 1,513.40 crore has been released,” the data made available from the WCD said.
Among these, the funds for only two projects were released 100 per cent. One time installment of Rs 200 crore for Home Ministry’s Creation of Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) and Rs 0.24 crore for WCD’s NICSI for Developing Nirbhaya Dashboard ensures for the 100 per cent fund release for these projects.
Against the appraised amount of Rs 312.69 crore for Emergency Response Support system, the Centre released zero amount in 2015-16, Rs 217.97 crore in 2016-17, Rs 55.39 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 19.71 crore in 2018-19. In total, Rs 293.07 crore has been released for the proposal of the Home Ministry.
There were projects which received zero funds from the Centre despite having appraised by the EC, including Proposal for procurement of Forensic Kits for sexual Assault cases; Organized Crime Investigative Agency (OCIA) with the appraised amount of Rs 83.20 crore; Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Government of Karnataka on Training women for heavy passengers vehicles with the appraised amount of Rs 56.06 crore.
Provision of Video Surveillance System at Konkan Railway Station, with the appraised amount of Rs 17.64 crore and also Proposal for implementing a ‘Safe City Project’ in Commissionerate Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack, Government of Odisha with the appraised amount of Rs 110.35 crore have received zero funds from the Centre.
The Central government, last year has appraised projects on safe city worth Rs 2,919.55 crores under the Nirbhaya Fund for eight major cities of the country to make them safer for women.
However, only Rs 439.10 crore has been released for the project for making Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow safer for women.
Under the Department of Justice, Rs 767.25 crore has been appraised by the EC for setting up fast track special courts to dispose off cases pending trial under Rape and POCSO Act. However, no funds were released for that as well.
The proposals received from states/Central Ministries to be funded under Nirbhaya Fund has to undergo scrutiny including by the concerned Ministries/ Departments, States/UTs prior to their consideration.
Thereupon it was appraised/ recommended by the EC, an inter-ministerial committee constituted under the chairpersonship of Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development (Nodal ministry).
After recommendation/appraisal by the Empowered Committee, the concerned Ministry/ Department takes the approval of Competent Authority for sanction of theproposal. The EC from time to time appraises, recommends and reviews/ monitors proposals/projects proposed by different Ministries/ Departments/ States/UTs.
By Nivedita Singh
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])