Akhilesh govt spends Rs 12.2 crore to dole out sops worth Rs 8.54 crore
Has the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh got its priorities wrong? Even as the Samajwadi Party (SP) gears up to celebrate its first year in office, a Right to Information (RTI) query on its flagship scheme an allowance for the unemployed is set to trigger a controversy.
The scheme had created a wave of goodwill in the run-up to last year’s assembly polls and reaped rich electoral dividends to the SP, which won 224 seats. It has now been disclosed that money spent on extravagant functions to distribute the dole is more than the money given to the programme’s beneficiaries.
In response to a RTI query by activist Urvashi Sharma, the training and employment directorate has pointed to an expenditure of Rs 12.29 crore for holding functions at various places. In contrast, the allowance disbursed by the government to the unemployed youth added up to only Rs 8.54 crore till Nov 2012.
This means that the beneficiaries of the government’s largesse got some Rs 4 crore less than what was spent on functions, advertisements, lunch packets, transport, marquees and the like.
Asked to respond to such lopsided expenditure, a government official admitted in private that the data was sure to “leave the state government red-faced”. “This is utterly embarrassing. I hope the right people take note of this and corrective measures are initiated,” quipped the official.
The wastage on these functions becomes even more profound as these were presided over by the chief minister. The SP had promised unemployed youths a dole of Rs 1,000 a month.
While some political quarters had questioned the move and asked the government to create job opportunities instead, the chief minister had called it a flagship scheme.
The government, within three months of its swearing in, kick-started the scheme with fanfare at the district headquarters.
Surprisingly, while the employment directorate says Rs 8.54 crore was distributed between March 15 and Nov 14 in 2012, an official but yet to be released speaks of Rs 192 crore distributed to 2,34,240 unemployed.