Lack of ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ utilization exposes lacklustre States

Highlights

  • Central Victim Compensation Fund remains unused
  • Universal helpline for women remains on paper

Hyderabad: It is perhaps one of the darkest ironies of life. For all the blabber about their bid towards achieving women empowerment and taking steps to accord priority to security for women, most State Governments, including Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, make little or no use of the initiatives put in place by the Union Government.

A case in point and one that exposes every State Government is the well-intended ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ that was set up by the Union Finance Ministry in 2013 with the singular intention of enhancing safety and security of women in the country.

Towards this an amount of Rs 3,100 crore has been earmarked, which could be used by State Governments as per their individual fund allotments. An amount of Rs 1,0351 lakh has been allocated under Nirbhaya funds to Telangana. It is a grotesque commentary that a mere Rs 419 lakh has been utilised by the government.

In 2016-17, a total of Rs 590 lakh was allotted to Telangana State under Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF). It is ridiculous to note that Telangana is among the 21 States and UT that is yet to make use of this fund.

Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) has been funded under the Framework of Nirbhaya Fund to support States/UTs for their Victim Compensation Scheme. The total cost of the project approved by the Ministry of Women & Child Development is Rs. 200 crore. Funds were released to States/UTs in 2016-17. Also, Supreme Court in 2018 had directed all States/UTs to modify their victim compensation scheme as per the scheme prepared by the National Legal Services Authority.

It is the same irony that stares at one while going through the progress of ‘Cyber Crime Prevention against Women & Children (CCPWC)’. Not even single rupee has been used from this fund, which stands at Rs 87.12 crore overall. This was released to States and UTs as part of the scheme, which includes establishing online cybercrime reporting unit, forensic unit, capacity-building unit, research and development unit and an awareness creation unit.

Meanwhile, the only progress of some note has been made by the Women and Child Welfare Department (WCD) of Telangana. It has succeeded in setting up as many as 27 out of 31 ‘One Stop Crisis Centres’ for women. In a record time of 100 days, the department has established 16 ‘One Stop Crisis Centres’, aka Sakhi centres in Telangana. The state has utilized Rs 116 lakh from the allotted fund.

Universalization of women helpline is another scheme where fund remains unutilised in many States, including Telangana, which has not spent anything of the Rs 28.26 received in 2015-16.

As part of the Nirbhaya Scheme, every State Government has to establish Emergency Response Support System (ERSS), a pan-India single number system for all emergencies. However, Telangana has not received any funding for four financial years.

In 2016-17, of the Rs 957.15 lakh that was allotted for the State, only Rs 25 lakh has been utilized spread over three years.

The Nirbhaya Fund Framework is a non-lapsable corpus fund. MWCD is responsible to review and monitor the progress of sanctioned projects/ schemes in conjunction with the concerned Union Ministries and departments. Budget allocations against approved projects are made through demands or supplementary demands for Central Grants.

Break-up of funds allocated:

1. 2013-14: Rs 1, 000 Cr

2. 2014-15: Rs 1,000 Cr

3. 2015-16: Nil

4. 2016-17: Rs 550 Cr

5. 2017-18: Rs 550 Cr

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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