CAG report reveals gaps in implementation of Tribal Sub Plan
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the ministries of human resource development, health and family welfare and AYUSH has found gaps in the implementation of the Tribal Sub Plan’s (TSP) education and health components.
TSP is a planning strategy which incorporates 28 ministries, departments and implementing agencies at the central and state levels.
It was formulated in the 1970s by the Centre to bridge the socio-economic gap between the tribal population and the rest of the country timely.
The CAG report, which focused on the education and health sectors, audited the implementation of the TSP and delivery of schemes and programmes funded through it.
“We noted that the earmarked TSP funds under various schemes and programmes of 28 central ministries and departments were not channelised at the state level for utilisation towards the benefit of tribals,” the report CAG said.
The CAG audit disclosed that the Tribal Affairs Ministry had not been involved in the process of formulation and finalisation of the annual plan which was the groundwork required for successful implementation of the TSP.
The government’s auditor said the planning for various schemes’ implementation under TSP was deficient, considering the plans were formulated without specific consideration of tribal beneficiaries as required.
Monitoring and evaluation of the scheme, both at the central and the state levels, was deficient, it said.
The CAG report noted the absence of need-based planning for tribals, leading to deficient infrastructure and facilities for healthcare and lack of support to Scheduled Tribe students in critical areas in the education sector.
The implementation of the TSP was checked in 18 states and two Union Territories having tribal population and the period of coverage of the performance audit is from April 2011 to March 2014.
Major findings of the audit report
The CAG found that the Departments of School Education and Literacy, Higher Education and Health and Family Welfare had not adopted the specified earmarking norms.
“Release of TSP funds did not synchronise with the allocations made by the departments. T here was short release of TSP funds by Rs 13,138.05 crore during 2011-12 to 2013-14,” the report said.
Citing tribal development strategy and programmes, the CAG report said that the TSP concept was not applicable to the tribal majority states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya where tribals represent more than 60 per cent of the population.
However, it was found in the audit that there were releases of TSP fund amounting to Rs 706.87 crore to tribal-majority states.
While replies from other departments are yet to be received, the Ministry of AYUSH stated that the council was in the process of identifying the units/programme which qualify for release of TSP funds.
The audit also found that Rs 326.21 crore of TSP funds were released to those states and Union Territories where Scheduled Tribe population was absent as per the 2011 census and TSP component was not applicable to them.
The audit added that funds amounting to Rs 433.09 crore in 62 cases were released at the fag-end of the year (March) in contravention to General Financial Rules.
The rule 215 (2) of these rules provides that a mechanism for avoiding release of a large part of funds towards the end of the year should be devised and incorporated in the scheme design itself.
Maintenance of Accounts and utilization of funds
The CAG report said that utilisation certificates from the state governments were received by the ministries for total funds released and not as per the head-wise releases.
“As a result the actual utilisation of funds under TSP remained unascertainable,” it said.
According to the 2010 guidelines by the then Planning Commission, the remaining underutilised funds were to be transferred at the end of a financial year into a non-lapsable pool of TSP funds. This fund is to be allocated to Ministry of Tribal Affairs for implementing schemes for development of STs.
The guideline was not implemented even after four years of issuance, the report said.
The audit also noticed several deficiencies in the financial management of TSP funds in the selected schemes in the states such as non-maintenance of separate account of TSP fund, short/delay in release by the central government/state government, non/under utilisation of TSP fund and so on.
Financial management under the scheme was deficient as many instances of under-utilisation and diversion of TSP funds were noticed, the CAG report said.
Delays in release of funds at various levels—from state governments to nodal agencies/implementing agencies were also observed.
Even though the funds from the central level were released in a trifurcated head i.e. general/Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to the states and from states to the district implementing agencies, the account of expenditure was not maintained separately at any level, the audit found.
“The states/districts furnished consolidated utilisation certificates without indicating component-wise details of the expenditure incurred. As a result, the exact expenditure under TSP remained unascertainable,” it said.
Recommending review of the TSP strategy by the tribal affairs ministry to keep tabs on the reported expenditure and the flow of benefits to the intended population of Scheduled Tribes, CAG suggested operationalisation of accounting arrangements by the ministry to ensure that TSP funds do not get diverted.
According to the CAG, the ministry should ensure the timely release of funds for all components at the central and state levels to facilitate uninterrupted implementation of the schemes covered under TSP.
Implementation of TSP in States
The report said that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had not been involved in the process of finalisation of the annual plan of the central ministries and departments as required under the guidelines.
It also noticed substantial deficiencies in the implementation of a few basic components of five selected schemes under the education and health sectors such as non-distribution of school uniform, non-establishment and non-functioning of model cluster school for girls, lack of basic amenities and facilities, absence of kitchen-cum-store, mismanagement of foodgrains, improper infrastructure, non-establishment of District Institutes of Education and Training and Block Institutes of Teachers’ Education.
Deficiencies in health facilities, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and non-conducting of information, education and communication activities were also observed.
The nodal ministries for education and health sectors failed to monitor the utilisation of funds released under TSP, the CAG read.
In many cases, where nodal departments were constituted, they did not have any role/control over formulation, implementation and monitoring programme of the TSP.
The CAG recommended the Tribal Affairs Ministry to issue appropriate instructions for maintenance of separate account, preparation and submission of separate utilisation certificates of TSP fund by states.
“Planning process needs to be strengthened with community involvement, especially in the tribal-dominant blocks, to ensure the benefit for tribal communities under the respective schemes,” CAG recommended.
Monitoring and evaluation
Calling the monitoring of the scheme at the central level unsatisfactory, CAG recommended the state governments should be asked to form a structure at the state level/district level to monitor and review the implementation and monitoring of the TSP fund.
“Despite PMO’s (Prime Minister’s Office) direction, dedicated TSP unit which was set up earlier in November 2005 was not functioning in the Planning Commission. Out of the 28 identified Ministries/Departments, only two departments furnished quarterly progress reports,” it said.
The auditor said there was a need to strengthen the nodal unit at the state/district level to assess the infrastructure gap and development needs in the tribal areas and converge the funding available under schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and so on.
Dedicated nodal units for formulation, implementation and monitoring of TSP components under each ministry/department should be made functional and oversight role of Ministry of Tribal Affairs should be strengthened in the overall monitoring framework of TSP, according to CAG recommendations.
It further suggested evaluation studies to assess the impact of TSP on socio economic development of STs to be conducted and findings of such studies should be used as input for planning process.
T he draft report of the CAG w as issued to the Ministry of HRD , Ministry of H&F W, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of AYUSH on 27 April 2015 for seeking response to the audit findings.
Except Ministry of AYUSH, replies from the other ministries are still awaited, CAG said.