Despite SC’s reminder, Nirbhaya Fund remains unspent till date
The central government announced a Nirbhaya Fund with a corpus of Rs 3,000 crore in 2013 to support initiatives towards ensuring safety of women, following nationwide outrage after the December 2012 gang rape. But since then, there hasn't been any information from the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry about utilisation of the fund.
The Supreme Court even issued a notice to the Centre and all the state governments questioning the non-utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund in May 2016.
Due to various accusations regarding the underutilisation of the fund since 2013, the government issued a clarification in January 2017, saying that the Ministry of Finance has issued guidelines from time to time for administration and operationalisation of the fund.
In that clarification, it gave a list of schemes like a project of Railways -- Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IERMS), the Home Ministry project -- Emergency Response support System (ERSS), Abhaya Project Proposal in Andhra Pradesh, Chirali Friends Forever in Rajasthan etc.
The Railways project at a cost of Rs 500 crore has been approved to provide round the clock security to women passengers in 983 railway stations by strengthening of security control rooms, according to the WCD ministry.
It said that for creation of the Home Ministry's project, a total cost of Rs 322 crore has been approved.
"There hasn't been any feedback from the ministries whether the fund allocated to them has been utilised," a WCD official said.
The proposal of Abhaya Project is for ensuring the safety of women and the girl child during transportation (auto- rickshaw). It has been proposed by Andhra Pradesh with a cost of Rs 139 crore, according to the ministry.
It explained Chirali as a scheme to constitute Community Action Groups in seven districts of Rajasthan covering a total of 2,071 Gram Panchayats. The cost of the project is Rs 11 crore, it said.
The amount allocated to different projects is approximately Rs 1,530 crore so far and the expenditure incurred is approximately Rs 400 crore (as per the information available with the Ministry of Women and Child Development).
While the ministry records show the allocation of the fund to different ministries and NGOs but there is no material on where the fund has been utilised.
The clarification just proves that the schemes and projects under the Nirbhaya Fund have been drafted but have not been manifested on the ground level.
Post the January 27 clarification, there has been no more information from the ministry about the utilisation of the fund.