No implementation of welfare schemes in Bengaluru since 2018

BBMP has been utilising most of the funds for COVID-19 management

Senior citizens recently staged a protest demanding that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) restart the midday meal programme, not for children but for the elderly. Until two years ago, the civic body would provide midday meals to senior citizens in all wards. However, the programme, which came to a halt in the early days of the pandemic in 2020, has still has not been revived.

The Akhila Karnataka Vayovruddhara Okkoota stated that senior citizens struggled during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns after the civic body suspended the midday meal programme. But this is not the only welfare scheme that has been suspended; many were stopped even before COVID-19 struck. According to BBMP’s senior officials, no welfare scheme has been implemented since 2018.

“Many files pertaining to welfare schemes have been pending and not approved. The schemes were all put on the back burner on account of the pandemic. Available funds were all diverted for COVID-19 management,” said a senior official, who spoke to The Hindu on condition of anonymity.

Barring a few schemes, such as reimbursement of school fees of children of pourakarmikas and ‘Onti Maney’, others such as wheelchairs for the disabled, distribution of sewing machines, laptops and tabs, and self-help programmes for women and transgender persons have not been implemented at all. “Even in ‘Onti Maney’, there have been no new sanctions. Only a few among those sanctioned earlier have been released,” the official added.

Akkai Padmashali, founder of social organisation ‘Ondede’, rued the sorry state of affairs. Vulnerable communities such as senior citizens, unorganised workers, and transgender persons, did not get the due attention, especially when they needed it the most. “While COVID-19 management is important, these communities suffered. If welfare schemes had been implemented, the problems of these communities would not have been severe,” she said.

‘Special grants diverted’

Venkatesh M. from Dalit Bahujan Movement — Karnataka said that apart from non-implementation of welfare schemes, special grants (24.1% grants) that should be utilised only for projects and programmes for Dalit welfare had been diverted and utilised for other purposes. The Karnataka Scheduled Castes Sub-Allocation and Tribal-Sub Allocation (Planning, Allocation, and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Act, 2013, the rules for which were notified in 2017, clearly state the purposes for which the funds have to be used.

“However, we found that in Vijayanagar, funds had been used in areas where there were no Dalit habitations. In one instance, funds have been used for the upgrading of a swimming pool. We have raised objections and complained about this to the higher authorities,” he said.

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