‘Rs 7.44 billion funds for SC/ST allegedly diverted for CWG preparations’

      A Delhi-based think tank has alleged that a vast sum of money, meant for the development of the marginalized sections of society, was diverted towards the preparations of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Alleging gross financial mismanagement in the CWG projects at a press interaction here on Tuesday, the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) Director, Miloon Kothari said that the authorities, in response to a Right to Information ( RTI ) query, had confirmed the disturbing disclosure. "What was confirmed by the Department of Social Welfare of the Delhi State Government is that Rs. 7.44 billion have been diverted over the last five years for use in Commonwealth Games projects," said Kothari. The funds were allocated for the upliftment of the lower caste and socially disadvantaged groups of India , namely the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST). Highlighting that the reports testified suspicions of the rampant corruption and financial irregularities involved in the CWG , Kothari lashed out at the state and central governments for their failure to curb such practices. "So we have a situation where there is total impunity with which the Delhi Government continues to operate year after year. The Planning Commission has been aware of the diversion of funds yet they have not taken any steps. They keep approving annually the plans that are put forward by the Delhi Government. And the person who would be directly responsible in this would be the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, for he is the Chairperson of the Planning Commission," said Kothari. Expressing his concern at the government apathy, Mishra added that diversion of funds had taken place on many occasions in the past, which had gone unreported. "Since the last five years, Rs 720 billion of Special Component Plan ( SCP ) for the SC/ST (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes) has been misused and diverted in a similar manner for other purposes. We are protesting this financial mismanagement and are prepared for a debate in the Parliament. We will raise this issue repeatedly till appropriate action is taken," claimed Mishra. The SCP was introduced in 1979-1980 by the federal government as a means for promoting micro-economic development and the socio-economic welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Delhi Government, however, adopted the SCP from the financial year 2007-2008. India is expecting about two million tourists in New Delhi for the Games, as well as about 10,000 athletes from 71 teams representing 54 Commonwealth member states. The Commonwealth Games 2010 will be held from 3 to 14 October in New Delhi.

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