The Akhilesh Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) government receiving flak for not protecting and rehabilitating Muzaffarnagar riot victims, has done remarkably well in developing graveyards and cremation grounds for minority communities.
Out of the Rs 3,000 crore earmarked for the welfare of minorities, during the past two years, since the young chief minister assumed office, a whopping Rs. 500 crore has been allocated and spent for developing graveyards and erecting boundary walls around them.
While making presentation at a conference of minority commissions here, state principal secretary Devash Chaturvedi, who heads the department of minority welfare and waqf, said that the state government has identified 85,773 graveyards and 238 cremation grounds that need to be developed and fenced. During 2012-13, the government spent Rs 200 crore to protect 4,321 graveyards and seven cremation grounds. Last year, the Akhilesh Yadav government earmarked Rs 300 crore for this scheme.
Muslim leaders feel that while the government had done quite well on the issue of building and fencing graveyards, it has fallen well below 50 per cent of the target on all other schemes despite funds being provided by the central government. Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari, who snapped ties with the SP, laments over the Akhilesh government’s failure to fulfill its election promise of ensuring 18 per cent reservation for the Muslim community as well as the failure to implement the central government’s Multi-sectoral Area Development Programme in its 25 Muslim concentration districts.
The UP government annually spends some Rs 1,840 crore on minority-related welfare programmes. It had directed district magistrates in 45 districts to prepare schemes worth Rs 10 crore for each block, town and town areas under their jurisdiction. However, most of the districts included in the list include the strongholds of political parties like Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Etawah, Kannauj and Etah. The districts with considerable minority population but represented by light weight politicians such as Saharanpur, Bijnore, Muzaffarnagar, Shravasti, Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Pilibhit, Bareilly and Barabanki have been ignored.
According to data available, in the first year of the SP government (2012-13), the utilisation of funds under the Multi-Sectorial Development Programme (MSDP) was a mere 2.74 percent, while in the neighbouring Bihar it was 23 per cent. Against the Rs 230 crore earmarked for the MSDP, the actual expenditure was a mere Rs 6.3 crore.
Sources in the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) said their on the spot study in Bagpat district found that technical institution to be set up from the funds earmarked for minorities had actually come up in areas with a mere two per cent minority population.