A Parliamentary panel slammed the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) for "gross underutilisation" of funds under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, POSHAN Abhiyaan and various other important schemes of the Central government on Tuesday, March 16.
According to the panel's report, the allocated funds for WCD schemes were underutilised, and the schemes failed to produce the desired results on the ground. "The Committee is of the opinion that the government is underutilising its schemes, and no results of these schemes were seen at the ground level."
The Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports also called for a plan of action to be introduced by June 30 to combat rising violence cases against women.
The committee also observed that the ministry had begun a practice of "saving" in its Demand for Grants documents, which it claimed had resulted in underutilisation of funds, ThePrint reported.
In the year 2019-20, ₹1500 Crore were 'saved' in the Poshan Abhiyaan scheme. In the One-Stop Centre scheme, ₹274 crores were provided, and approximately ₹136 crores were 'saved'; and in Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, ₹280 crores were provided, and ₹194 crores were 'saved', as per the panel's report.
In 2015, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was introduced to resolve the deteriorating child sex ratio and other women's empowerment issues. The National Nutrition Mission, or POSHAN Abhiyaan, was launched in March 2018 to tackle malnutrition in children and teenage girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
The One Stop Centre scheme was launched in April 2015 for addressing the problem of violence against women.
The committee proposed that the ministry should make the best use of the funds allotted under different headings and aim for efficiency. The report asserted on achieving outcomes, adding that the ministry should invest, implement, and deliver noticeable outcome-driven results in the coming financial year.
Violence against women
The panel has also proposed that the Trafficking in People (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill be introduced in the next parliamentary session, considering the increase in cases of trafficking in women and children.
The bill was passed during the Lok Sabha's monsoon session in 2018. It was then referred to the Rajya Sabha for approval, but it was unable to do so as both Houses of Parliament were prorogued, and the bill lapsed after the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha in 2019.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the number of human trafficking cases rose from 6,877 in 2015 to 6,993 in 2019.
In light of the rising number of criminal cases against women, the panel has asked the ministry to come up with a mechanism to reduce the response time to distress calls from women.
The panel also pointed out that the Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme, one of the Nirbhaya Fund's key pillars, had only been enforced in five states despite being approved for 13 states.
In states/UTs, Mahila police volunteers serve as links between the police and the community, assisting women in distress.
The report instructed the remaining eight states to deploy MPVs, mostly in rural and semi-urban areas, to combat violence against women and complement existing law enforcement agencies.