The Nirbhaya Fund was set up in response to the 2012 gruesome gangrape in Delhi and was meant to fund multiple schemes to promote the safety of women. The latest data indicates that a total of 62% of the released funds are utilized so far. Here is a detailed review.
Nirbhaya Fund was constituted by the Government of India, as a corpus fund to support initiatives and measures taken to ensure the safety of women. This was created in conjuncture with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, commonly known as the Nirbhaya Act.
The Ministry of Finance has issued guidelines on 25 March 2015, regarding the framework of the Nirbhaya Fund. It is a non-lapsable corpus fund that is administered by the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Economic affairs. The Ministry of Women & Child Development is the nodal ministry to appraise the proposals of the recommended schemes that can be funded under the Nirbhaya Fund.
We had earlier written a story, explaining about Nirbhaya Fund and its utilization till 2018-19. Recently, responding to a question in Lok Sabha on 05 February 2021, the government provided an update on the allocation and utilization of funds for various schemes under the Nirbhaya Fund.
As per the update, a total of Rs. 3544 crores were released so far i.e nearly 62% of the Rs. 5713 crores allocated and 37.7% of the total worth of schemes appraised up to January 2021.
We analyze these numbers further and also review the progress made under various schemes utilizing Nirbhaya Fund.
None of the funds allocated under Department of Justice have been utilized
Multiple schemes under various ministries were allocated funds for initiatives to improve the safety of women in the country. There are variances in the extent of utilization across these schemes.
The proportionately higher utilization of the allocated funds is largely due to the greater utilization of funds for schemes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
As per the update provided in Lok Sabha recently, a total of Rs. 2.24 thousand crores were released under various projects under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The funds are from the period 2015-16 to 2020-21 across 36 States & UTs. This is the highest amount released through any ministry under Nirbhaya Fund. Out of this, 79% has been utilized so far.
Among schemes under the Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD),
- “Universalization of Women Helpline Scheme” under the Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) also has a higher utilization of the funds released. 55% of the Rs. 57.24 crores have been utilized by the States/UTs to date.
- Meanwhile, 4 State-specific projects were approved, and funds were released for M.P, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand & Nagaland under the same Ministry. The utilization is comparatively higher at 58%.
However, the utilization is low for a few of the other schemes for which funds were allocated.
- One-Stop Centre Scheme (OSC) has been a key initiative under MWCD, in aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident. However, only around 100 crores of the released Rs. 440 crores were utilized in setting up OSCs.
- “Mahila Police Volunteer Scheme” under MWCD, has very low utilization of the funds. So is the case with the 3 State-specific schemes initiated under MoRTH (Ministry of Road Transport & Highways).
- Out of the Rs. 87.53 crores released for the “Proposal for customization, deployment, and management of State-wise AIS 140 vehicle tracking platform” initiative by MoRTH, none of the funds have been utilized so far.
- Similarly, Rs. 229.72 crores were released for setting up of Fast Track Special Courts to dispose off cases pending trial under Rape & POCSO Act under Department of Justice. However, none of the funds have been utilized towards this effort.
Half of the total funds released under Nirbhaya Fund went to Five states
Large variances exist in the release of the Nirbhaya funds to the states. Delhi, where the Nirbhaya incident took place and where multiple incidents regarding women’s safety are reported, has received the highest allocation of the funds.
A total of Rs. 412 crores were released to Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region). A major portion of these funds was under the various projects initiated under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Delhi is followed by Uttar Pradesh, with Rs. 340.49 crores. As is the case with Delhi, a major portion of the funds released were under the various projects initiated by MHA. A total of Rs. 50.72 crores were released to U.P under the “One Stop Centre” initiative, the highest for any state in the country.
As per the NCRB-2019 Crime in India (CII) report, Delhi has the second-highest rate of Crime against Women after Assam. Delhi as a city recorded the highest crime rate in 2019, among the Metropolitan Cities as per NCRB’s 2019 CII report.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of crimes against women. This could be attributed to the greatest women population of 10.8 crore women in the state. (mid-year projected population 2019).
These two states are followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra & Karnataka respectively. A major portion of the funds released is under the MHA projects. These three states along with Delhi & U.P together receive nearly 50 % of the total Nirbhaya funds released to the States/UTs.
Gujarat & Telangana are next in line in terms of the number of crimes against women and also funds received. This could be due to the presence of large cities in these five states.
Tamil Nadu, Delhi & West Bengal among the states with the highest utilization of the released funds
As highlighted earlier, there are variances among the schemes in terms of the allocation & release of these funds. Similar differences are observed even in the utilization of the funds. Around 60% of the released funds have been utilized so far at the national level, as per the details provided in the Lok Sabha.
While there is a disparity in terms of the funds released to the states, their actual utilization influences the success of the schemes/projects taken up. Delhi, which has received the highest funds also is among the top states in terms of utilization with around 85.6% of funds utilized so far. 87% of the funds released for various MHA projects in Delhi have been utilized. Tamil Nadu with 87.8% utilization has utilized the highest proportion of the funds allocated to it.
With the exception of 5 States (Delhi, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka & Telangana), the rest of the States/UTs have utilized less than 65% of the funds released to them. In fact, 23 out of the 35 States/UTs have utilized less than half of the funds released to them. Some of the large states have utilized less than 30% of the funds released.
A review of the fund utilization indicates that many of the States have low utilization. Furthermore, as highlighted in the earlier part of this story, there are disparities among the schemes/projects in terms of utilization.
A detailed analysis of the utilization of funds under these schemes in specific states would throw more light on the efficacy of the schemes/projects initiated with the Nirbhaya funds. In the next story, we take a look at each of these Schemes/Projects in detail to understand the trends across the states and also try ascertaining the impact of the same.
Featured Image: Nirbhaya Fund Utilization