It is a sad commentary on governance that funds allocated under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in the state are not being fully utilized. According to a recent review, various departments have spent less than 14 per cent of about Rs 449-crore allocation under TSP for 2015-16 by November 2015. Departments such as tourism, labour and employment, higher education and co-operation have failed to utilise even a single rupee under TSP. The review found that most of the departments were unaware of the way the funds have to be utilized. The concept of TSP is to bring about integrated development of tribal areas wherein all programmes irrespective of source of funding operate in unison to achieve the goal of bringing the tribal areas at par with rest of the state and improve the quality of life of tribals. It is geared towards taking up family-oriented income generating schemes, elimination of exploitation, human resource development through education and training and infrastructure development.
The indifferent approach to implementation of TSP is a matter of serious concern as the scheduled tribes make up more than 10.23 per cent of the total population in the state according to the 2011 census. In terms of population, the tribals are over 1.5 lakh. Salcete has the highest tribal population of 21.81 per cent of the total tribal population, followed by Ponda with 18.49 per cent, Quepem with 16.94 per cent and Tiswadi with 12.58 per cent. The Gowda community forms 71.45 per cent of ST population in state, followed by Velips (21.46%) and Kunbis (3%). The other tribes are Dhodia, Dubla(Halpati), Naikda(Talavia), Siddi(Nayaka), Varli and Generic Tribes. Over 58 per cent of tribals live in the rural areas. The recent review suggests that for many years the very basic objective of TSP, which is to channelise the flow of outlays and benefits from the general sectors in the central ministries and departments for the development of schedules tribes at least in proportion to their population both in physical and financial terms, has not been understood by government departments, what to speak of implementing it.
In order to rectify the lapses the first thing the state government should do is to ensure whether they have taken the first step correctly – that is, whether adequate funds have been earmarked to TSP proportionate to the share of STs in the population. The second thing the government needs to do is to empower the nodal department for TSP implementation. The government has decided that the departments will prepare their plans in consultation of the directorate of planning, statistics and evaluation. In this regard it needs to be noted that the erstwhile Planning Commission in consultation with the tribal welfare ministry had issued revised Guidelines during 2014 for implementation of TSP by the states /UTs and central government ministries and departments keeping in mind the holistic development of tribal people. The Guidelines, inter alia, recognized respective tribal welfare department in the states as the nodal department authorized to lead the process of TSP development.
However, in Goa the nodal department could, what to speak of monitoring the implementation of TSP, itself spend only 8.96 per cent of the fund till November 2015. The budgetary provision for the department is 235.60 crore for this financial year, but its expenditure was Rs only 21.11 crore till November 2015. The Tribal Sub Plans are integral to Annual Plans as well as Five Year Plans, making its provisions non-divertible and non-lapsable, with the clear objective of bridging the gap in socio-economic development of the STs within a specified period. But the money earmarked for tribal development is spent in other ways making a mockery of the above objectives. There is no monitoring and evaluation on behalf of the concerned departments and nobody is accountable for it.
The state government must resolve the policy and operational issues of TSP. It should not allow TSP funds to be diverted from TSP areas for other purposes. It should make adequate provision of TSP budget in annual plans in proportion to the tribal population in the state. The annual plans should set realistic physical targets for TSP schemes and programmes. The TSP budget should focus on the empowerment of tribal leaders (community leaders) through training, exposure and education. There should be periodical benchmark surveys regarding the socioeconomic status of the tribal people in TSP areas, in order to know whether TSP has reduced poverty, created jobs and productive assets for bringing the scheduled tribes at par with the average standards of the state.