New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday allocated Rs.3,511 crore to the minorities affairs ministry, an increase of 12 percent over last year, for special welfare schemes.
The allocation was made despite the ministry failing to utilise the money allocated to it in last year's budget.
The allocation of Rs.3,511 crore ($655 million) in the budget 2013-14 marks a marginal increase from Rs.3,135 crore allocated in the last budget.
The finance ministry has raised the allocation of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) to Rs.160 crore, with an objective is to raise it to Rs.1,500 crore during the 12th plan period.
The MAEF formulates and implements educational schemes for educationally backward minorities and facilitates establishment of residential schools, especially for girls.
Chidambaram said the foundation wishes to add medical aid to its objectives and the same has been accepted.
A beginning can be made by providing medical facilities such as a resident doctor in educational institutions run or funded by the foundation, he said, adding Rs.100 crore is being allocated to launch this initiative.
The finance ministry has increased the allocation of scholarship for undergraduate and post-graduate levels to Rs.239 crore, an increase of 17 percent over the revised estimates of the last budget.
Allocation for free coaching and allied schemes for minorities has been increased from last year's Rs.18 crore to Rs.22.50 crore.
Likewise for research, monitoring and evaluation of development schemes for minorities the amount has been raised to Rs.44 crore from last year's Rs.39.70 crore.
For pre-Class 10 and post-Class 10 scholarships for minorities, the amount has been increased to Rs.855 crore and Rs.493 crore respectively, an increase of about 15 percent and 37 per cent respectively over revised estimates of the last year.
An allocation of Rs.1,110 crore has been made for the multi-sectoral development programme for minorities in this year's budget from last year's Rs.887.90 crore, marking an increase of about 20 percent, even as most funds allocated last year remain unused.
Similarly, the allocation has been increased for the Maulana Azad National Fellowship from Rs.63 crore to Rs.81 crore this year, while the spending last year was only Rs.59.50 crore.
While allocation has been increased for many special welfare schemes, cuts also have been effected in many other.
The finance ministry has allocated to the National Commission of Minorities Rs.7.17 crore, a reduction of about 16 percent over last year's revised estimates, as its expenditure was only Rs.7.44 crore against the allocated Rs.8.35 crore in 2012.
Grants-in-aid to the Waqf board has also been marginally reduced from Rs.3.20 crore to Rs.3.18 crore. Also, for computerization of records of state Waqf boards the allocation has been cut by almost half from Rs.4.50 crore to Rs.2.70 crore.