UP govt cool to Centre's imitation of its Dalit village scheme

Last Updated: Sat, Jul 24, 2010 18:40 hrs

The Prime Minister’s Adarsh Gram Yojana , the Centre’s version of the Uttar Pradesh government’s Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojana, seems to be caught in the political battle for Dalit votes. Both are almost identical and target Dalit-majority villages for an integrated approach to implementation of existing schemes.

While the UP scheme just needs tying up all available scheme funds at the village level to achieve certain targets set by the state, the central scheme provides Rs 10 lakh per village, with the state government expected to make a matching contribution.

The social justice ministry today launched the scheme in a village in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan. The government has planned to run a pilot programme in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan and Assam. It has released a sum of Rs 22.72 crore for Bihar and Rajasthan and Rs 10 crore for Assam. The proposals from Tamil Nadi are still being processed, while the UP government never responded to requests for proposals, ministry sources said.

The scheme allows identified villages with a majority Dalit population to get gap-funding of Rs 10 lakh to fulfill any need not met by existing funds and schemes. Ministry officials explained that if, for example, an anganwadi was functioning without a building, the money could be used for that. It would ensure a bottom-up approach, allowing villages to decide how to use the money, the ministry says.

A total of 1,000 villages are to be covered under the scheme. About 225 villages in each of the four states named (excluding UP) are being given funds in the first phase, after which more villages in other states would be identified for funding. Unlike the central scheme, UP’s Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojana does not allocate any special funds but ensures convergence of existing schemes at the level of the village to achieve key targets in water sanitation, connectivity, electricity and land distribution.

The scheme was started in 1991 and was revised by Chief Minister Mayawati in 2008 and is to end next year, on the eve of the state elections.

While the Centre has been accusing states of taking credit for central schemes, in this case the state could be wary of the Centre confusing voters with a new scheme for Dalit villages when one already exists.