Massive protests, calls for stricter laws, and even extreme punishments (vis-a-vis death penalty, mob lynching) have been sparked following the brutal gangrape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad and the subsequent reports of other acts of transgression against women. The country has been debating whether those involved in the heinous crimes should be sentenced with their capital punishment, to suit the enormity of the act they have committed. However, keeping the knee-jerk public reaction aside, newly revealed data has shed light on the horrible fact that most states are actually unwilling to make use of funds specifically assigned for the safety of women against these crimes.
The Nirbhaya Fund, named after the Delhi student gang-raped and murdered six years ago, was established in 2013 by the Centre to ensure better implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women across India. But little seems to have changed on the ground in the fact that a majority of the states have been extremely reluctant in spending the amount disbursed under the Nirbhaya Fund.
Where is this the most prominent?
Data released by the Centre shows that some states, including Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Daman & Diu have failed to utilise even a single penny of Nirbhaya Fund so far. Other states have not even used 50% of the funds allocated by the central government under the fund.
The data was presented in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Child and Women Development Smriti Irani on November 29. The Union Minister tabled the data in reply to the questions raised by Lok Sabha MPs Mala Roy, Dr Kalanidhi Veeraswamy, A Raja, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Vincent Pala and Ramalingam S, who had asked Union Minister Irani to table details of the funds sanctioned, allocated and utilized under the Nirbhaya Scheme by different state and Union Territories.
What about other states?
According to data, Delhi has spent only Rs 19.41 out of Rs 390.90 allocated by the Centre in Nirbhaya Fund. The situation is disappointing in Uttar Pradesh too as the state government has spent just Rs 3.93 crore out of Rs 119 crore. Karnataka government is also lagging behind when it comes to utilising Nirbhaya Fund for the safety fund as only 13.62 crores out of the total fund of 191.72 has been used by the state government for the safety of women. Telangana government has also failed to make proper use of Nirbhaya Fund as the state has utilised a paltry Rs 4.19 crore out of total allocated Rs 103 crore under Nirbhaya Fund.
A table measuring the amount of money from the fund spent by each state is provided below:
|Serial No.||State/Union Territory||Total funds sanctioned/allocated to State/UT (in Rs Lakh)||Utilization Certificate Received|
|10||Jammu and Kashmir||1256.02||324.53|
|30||Andaman and Nicobar Islands||653.08||147.05|
|32||Dadra and Nagar Haveli||420.00||158.00|
|33||Daman and Diu||420.00||0|
Why is this a cause for concern?
It is important to note that while demand for more laws are raised every time such a crime is reported, the lacklustre response of the states to utilise the Nirbhaya Fund for the safety of women sends a message that the state governments are not serious in bringing change in the lives of women, only indulging in a reactionary response demanding lynching, death penalty and what not while unwilling to take any practical steps.
The Nirbhaya Fund Framework provides for a non-lapsable corpus fund for safety and security of women to be administered by the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of India. Various ministries have proposed projects to use this fund with a view to enhancing the safety and security of women in the country. Some of the ministries which have submitted such proposals are the Ministry of Information Technology, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Home Affairs.