New Delhi: A committee on women empowerment has flagged poor utilisation of funds by states under the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' scheme and suggested that the government needs to focus more on education and health than on advertising the scheme.
Titled 'Empowerment of Women through Education with Special Reference to Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao Scheme', a report by the panel tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday said that since the inception of the scheme in 2014-15 till 2019-20, its total budgetary allocation was Rs 848 crore.
An amount Rs 622.48 crore was released to the states during this period.
"However, to the committees' dismay, only 25.13 per cent of the funds, i.e. Rs 156.46 crore have been spent by the states, reflecting not up to the mark performance of the scheme. Even C&AG had made references to the scheme's implementation and very less spending by states in 2016-17," the report said.
The committee also noted that despite funds left unspent with the states in a particular year, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has been releasing additional funds.
"The committee also finds that the nodal ministry (WCD) has no disaggregated information on the spending by the states/UTs on education, health and other interventions under BBBP," said the report.
The committee recommended that the WCD Ministry should immediately take up with the states and union territories, the issue of poor utilisation of the central funds and ensure proper utilisation of BBBP funds for the benefit of the girl child.
"The nodal ministry should release funds to the states/UT strictly on the basis of actual utilisation of earlier release and after proper scrutiny of expenditure/ utilisation of the previous funds. The nodal ministry must have a target-oriented approach for the states and must act in a time-bound manner," it added.
In its report, the committee said that Rs 50 lakh per year is earmarked per district for utilisation under six different components -- 16 per cent for inter-sectoral consultation or capacity building, 50 per cent for innovation or awareness generation activities, six per cent for monitoring and evaluation, 10 per cent for sectoral interventions in health, 10 per cent for sectoral interventions in education and eight per cent as flexi funds.
"The committee finds that out of a total of Rs 446.72 crore released during the period 2016-2019, a whopping 78.91 per cent was spent only on media advocacy. Though the committee understands the necessity to undertake media campaign to spread the message of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' among the people, they feel that it is equally important to balance the objectives of the scheme," it said.
Noting that over the last six years, through focused advocacy, BBBP has been able to capture the attention of the political leadership and national consciousness towards valuing the girl child, the report said now the scheme should focus on other verticals by making ample financial provisions to help achieve measurable outcomes related to education and health envisaged under the scheme.
"Since BBBP is one of the most important schemes of the government to improve child sex ratio in backward regions and ensure education of the girl children, the committee recommends that the government should, hereafter, reconsider spending on advertisements under the 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' scheme and should focus on planned expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health," it added.
There is a national task force headed by the secretary of MWCD, a state task force headed by the chief secretary or the UT administrator and a district task force headed by DCs or DMs to guide and monitor the intermediary targets of the scheme, the report stated.
"... the committee finds that there is a lapse in undertaking required number of task force meetings and collecting monthly reports or statement of expenditure from districts on time. Such examples of non-compliance of the guidelines are clear indicators that the scheme is not being reviewed or monitored properly. Regular audits and real-time updation of activities are necessary to ensure compliance," it said.
The committee also noted that the lack of functional toilets could be the reason for girls dropping out of schools.
The report stated that 94.8 per cent of schools out of 15,16,797 (co-ed + girls) have girls' toilets. Out of the 94.8 per cent, only 90.65 per cent of schools (coed + girls) have functional girls toilets, it said. KVS and JNVs also have sufficient separate toilets for girl students, the report added.
"The committee also observes that composite grants under Smagra Shiksha are provided for conducive learning environment including construction of separate girls toilets. Though the UDISE data claims the availability of 95.4 per cent toilets for girls in schools, their actual usability with running water and doors which can be secured from inside is what counts and not the data on paper about the existence of toilets," it said.
Stating that lack of functional toilets in schools is a major reason for dropping out of girls, the report recommended that a timeline be finalised for constructing 100 per cent segregated functional toilets for girls in government schools, and in convergence with Jal Shakti Mission, tapped water supply be ensured in them.