State budget share for child welfare decreasing

TNN | Nov 8, 2013, 12.41AM IST

UWAHATI: A study by the Guwahati-based Northeastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) and the New Delhi-based HAQ: Centre for Child Rights has revealed that Assam's budgetary allocation for the welfare of children has been showing a decreasing trend.

The study, named Budget for Children, which was released here on Wednesday, analyzed the share of the state's budget for child development from 2008-2009 to 2013-2014.

Despite children comprising 40.92 per cent of the state's total population, the study found that budgetary allocation for children has decreased from 5.17 per cent in 2008-2009 to 3.49 per cent in 2013-2014. In a sharp contrast to Assam, states like Andhra PradeshWest Bengal and Delhi have showed an increase in allocations for children.

According to the study, in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi, allocation for child development varied from 19 to 10 per cent between 2008-2009 and 2013-2014.

"Only 4.85 per cent on an average in the total state budget during 2008-2009 to 2013-2014 was allocated for children in the state," the study said. It said the bigger concern is the "under-spending" of the allocations.

"There was an average under-spending of 16.45 per cent during 2008-2009 to 2011-2012. The maximum under-spending of 28.21 per cent was noted in 2008-2009, while the least under-spending was 5.94 per cent in 2010-2011," the study said.

Social welfare minister Akon Bora, who released the report, said the government has already stepped up its effort for development and protection of child rights.

"Along with the social welfare department, other departments also have an important role to play for the development of children in the state," Bora said.

Assam additional chief secretary Subhash Chandra Das said there are many challenges, though efforts are on to improve the quality of education and rationalizing the deployment of teachers. He said the government is also exploring the possibilities of implementing pre-school education for children under the age of six in Anganwadi centres.

National Advisory Council member and deputy director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Virginius Xaxa stressed on the need for extensive audits to track the flow of funds.

HAQ co-director Enakshi Ganguly Thukral said ethnic violence, natural calamities and trafficking are some of the factors that have an effect on child welfare.

NESRC director Melvil Pereira hoped the report will help the government work for ensuring better budgetary allocation for children in the state.