CHANDIGARH: In a landmark move that will earmark a part of the state’s annual budget for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes in proportion to their population in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday gave the go-ahead for putting a new Bill before the Cabinet, thus paving the way for its enactment in the next session of the Vidhan Sabha.

The ‘Punjab State Welfare and Development of Scheduled Castes (Planning, Earmarking and Utilization of Financial Resources) Sub-Allocation Bill, 2021’ will also enable the government to put in place an institutional mechanism to formulate and monitor the implementation of the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP), and matters connected with it.

The legislation, when passed in the Assembly, will provide the state government a platform to ensure the overall development of Scheduled Castes through effective implementation of various welfare schemes under SCSP.

Notably, Punjab has the highest percentage of SC population in the country, at 31.94%.

Reiterating his government’s firm commitment to the socio-economic and educational development of the SC population in the state, the Chief Minister said the Bill will give a big boost to his government’s efforts to ensure the welfare of this segment.

An official spokesperson said the Directorate of Scheduled Castes Sub Plan would be the nodal agency to ensure formulation of SCSP, besides monitoring its implementation. The authority competent to approve State Annual Budget estimates would also accord approval to the SCSP simultaneously with the State Annual Budget of the relevant financial year, before submitting it to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. There would be a single mechanism for flow of funds under SCSP, and the Finance Department would remain the controlling authority for this purpose.

The progress of SCSP would be reviewed and monitored at State, District and Block levels, as per procedure and by the Committee as prescribed. Each Department shall ensure transparency and accountability at all levels in the implementation of the SCSP.

The efficacy of the legislation would be ensured by the systematic and exhaustive procedures on all aspects with respect to the formulation and implementation of SCSP in the state. Moreover, the departments implementing SCSP would become liable to implement it in its true spirit for the benefit of stakeholders i.e. Scheduled Castes population in the State. The new law would ensure transparency and accountability at all levels in the implementation of SCSP. There will also be a provision of incentives for commendable performance and penalties for willful neglect of any rule under the law by a Government functionar

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