Use of Nirbhaya fund for building irks panel
A parliamentary panel has found discrepancies in utilization of the Nirbhaya fund, with the money being used for construction of buildings rather than for measures to improve safety of women. The parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs has taken strong exception to such usage of the fund saying, such allocations virtually defeat the very purpose of the project i.e women’s safety. The committee, headed by Congress leader P Chidambaram, said it was of the firm view that funds for construction of buildings should come from other sources. “The committee strongly recommends that the home ministry should desist from sanctioning funds for schemes like construction of buildings from the Nirbhaya Fund and adhere to its original purpose,” it said. The Nirbhaya Fund was started in 2013 by the Congressled United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the aftermath of the gruesome gang rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in New Delhi on December 16, 2012. The fund was meant to implement initiatives aimed at enhancing safety and security of women. The committee said sanctioning money from the Nirbhaya Fund for schemes pertaining to compensation would render it as a fund for mere disbursal and would not have a desired impact on the ground in enhancing security. According to the panel, Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned as one-time grant for Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) Scheme for compensating women who are victims of acid attacks, rape, trafficking, etc. While appreciating the necessity and significance of the CVCF Scheme the panel suggested that this scheme could have been funded from other sources. The committee took note of the reply of the home ministry that the decreased allocation made for ‘Schemes of Safety of Women’ was primarily because most of the expenditure out of the approved outlay for Emergency Response Support System had already been incurred up to 2017-18.