GUWAHATI: Kaliabor MP and deputy leader of the opposition Congress in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi has moved the Centre over the cut in allocations for social security schemes for children in the Union Budget 2021-22.
Urging the Centre to reconsider its stance on child welfare and economic support provided to such schemes, Gogoi also highlighted the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the government should not “paralyse the existing welfare mechanisms by starving them for revenue”.
“In comparison to the allocation in 2014-15, the mid-day meal scheme has witnessed an alarming 38 % cut in real numbers. The scheme was allocated Rs 13,215 crores in 2014-15, it is allocated Rs 11,000 crore in the latest budget,” Gogoi wrote in a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“The number has decreased even without accounting for inflation, and when accounted with 5% inflation, the scheme’s allocation has been reduced by 38%. The ICDS has also been subjected to a 36% cut in real numbers. ICDS was allocated Rs 18,691 crores in 2014-15, which at an inflation rate of 5% would amount to Rs 26,300 crores currently. Keeping allocation for it at 84% of the umbrella scheme, same as last year, this year’s allocation would be Rs 16,888 crores,” he elaborated.
Referring to the increasing number of dropouts from schools due to the lockdown and the pandemic, he said: “Mid-day meal scheme has proven to be an incentive for students to attend school, these cuts are not only alarming with regard to child nutrition but also with regard to education. In a situation where the government should endeavour to ensure retention and incentivise re-enrolment in schools, the budget allocations are immensely disappointing.”
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