With the country still trying to bridge the divides created by caste and communal considerations, government schemes tosupport people who brave social stigma associated with inter-caste marriages are commendable. But, much like other such welfare programmes, this plan too is wrapped up in red tape and deferrals. So, while the state’s social welfare department donates Rs 50,000 to every inter-caste married couple, some applicants MiD DAY spoke to said they managed to obtain the money a year later after doing the rounds of government offices.
Praveen (name changed), who ran away from home to tie the knot, told MiD DAY, “This was a tough time as our families had disowned us. I was in great need of financial help and thought that the amount would be useful at least in meeting our initial financial needs. However, I had to wait for a whole year a long to get the fund.” He maintained that officials in the district social welfare department had told him that they couldn’t spell out the precise duration required to get the funds.
Praveen is not alone. Prakash (name changed) said that even after submitting all the necessary documents, he received the financial aid eight months later. “The officials who deal with this scheme do not pick up the phone, and are frequently absent from their chairs when one goes to seek answers. Such behaviour discourages us from claiming the amount,” he lamented.
A Government Resolution (GR) in February 2010 had mentioned that the amount to be tendered would be increased to Rs 50,000 from the initial Rs 15,000 from February 1, to encourage inter-caste marriages where one partner is from opencategory, while the other is from a Scheduled Caste/Tribe.
For the year 2012-13, the state government had allocated Rs 2.61 crore for the district of which only Rs .1.69 crore has been utilised. According to officials in the department, as many as 325 couples received Rs 50,000 each from this programme in 2012-13, while 48 couples that got hitched before 2010, i.e before the GR was amended, got Rs 15,000 each.
When contacted, district social welfare officer Sanjay Kadam, he held the absence of the core banking system in DPDC bank responsible for the delays. “The bank does not have trained employees. Besides transfer of money from here to nationalised banks, where the most the couples have their accounts, takes time,” said Kadam. He added that the department had to do all the transactions for this scheme through DPDC bank according to state government’s instructions.
“Earlier we used to donate the money through cheques, but after adopting the new system of sending the money to the couples’ joint accounts, the process is taking time,” Kadam said. He, however, assured that once the teething troubles are over, the money would be passed on in just two days.
Documents needed to claim the money
>> Caste Certificate
>> Marriage Certificate
>> Document of age proof
>> No-objection certificate from district authorities of any one of the partners (to rule out outsider issue)
>> Joint bank account number of the couple
Who can claim these funds?
Couples, where one partner is of open category and another is from a Scheduled Caste/Tribe, are entitled to these funds. Those who tied the knot after 2010 would get Rs 50,000, while couples that got married prior to that year are entitled to Rs 15,000 each. Those from Hindu, Sikh, Buddha and Jain religions, where people follow the concept of ‘untouchability’, can claim the funds. Apart from Maharashtra, other states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and union territory of Chandigarh, also have such provisions to encourage inter-caste marriages. However, if either the bride or groom is an outsider to the state, then the couple is not eligible for the benefit in Maharashtra.
Rs 2.61 crore Amount allocated by the state government for the district in 2012-13 to run the programme