Tribal welfare schemes find no takers


Attempts made by the government to improve the living conditions of the scheduled tribe (ST) community in Goa by declaring a series of schemes over the past three months have faltered due to tardiness in their introduction and lack of awareness among beneficiaries. The government’s Tribal Welfare Department now aims to reach out to each tribal household within the next two-odd months before the financial year ends.
The state government since October 2012 has introduced a total of seven schemes for the community which includes assistance to construct new houses, repairs, financial support to students, assistance for study tours, et al.
The Department of Tribal Welfare has around Rs 370 crore in its kitty for the year 2012-13. If the funds remained unutilized, they would have to be carried forward to the coming financial year 2013-14.  
Tribal Welfare Minister Ramesh Tawadkar told Herald:  “For the period  from January to March 2012, we are trying to cover maximum people under various schemes, adding "Optimum utilization of funds would be done during this period."
Tawadkar acknowledges that the schemes haven’t found any takers till now. He also pointed fingers at the poor administrative setup of the Tribal Welfare Department, which he said he has put in place in the initial months after taking charge. He said he was confident of utilizing "at least 50 per cent of the allotted funds in the ongoing fiscal".
 In the first stage, the department aims  to cover around 3,000 beneficiaries under Atal Asra Yojana, which provides financial assistance for construction (upto Rs 2.50 lakh) and repairs of houses (Rs 1 lakh) to the ST community, by March-end.  
Tawadkar said the scheme, introduced in October last year, failed to kick off initially, as the State Planning Commission raised several doubts over its implementation.
The scheme, which was initially introduced as an addition to the amount sanctioned under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), was later modified stating that the beneficiaries of RAY and IAY would not be entitled for the scheme.
“Following this, we decided to create awareness about all schemes and for that, panchayat secretaries, BDO’s and panch members were trained.” 
Even after repeated reminders and circulars;  Tawadkar pointed out, schools located in tribal areas did not show any interest towards the various student- oriented schemes. 
The State government’s ‘Prashikshan Yatra', which aims to provide financial assistance to educational institutes in tribal-dominated areas to conduct study tours/excursions across the country, would kick start from the upcoming academic year 2013-14 onwards. [H]