New Delhi: The Indian government has set aside Rs 37.8 billion in the Eleventh Five Year Plan for the development of 90 districts where religious minorities are concentrated.
”The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the decision which constitutes a part of the 15-point package for minority development conceived by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and promoted by the newly constituted Minority Affairs Ministry," government spokesperson Deepak Sandhu said on Thursday.
"The objective is to improve the basic amenities and other socio-economic parameters in these districts for betterment of the quality of life of the people inhabiting them and reducing the imbalances."
This, she said, is "in line with the priority attached to inclusive growth".
Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists are India's prominent minority communities, which make up 140 million of the country's billion-plus population.
"The programme will mainly focus on rural and semi-rural areas of the identified 90 minority concentration districts and will be implemented by the Panchayati Raj institutions, scheduled area councils and other such local representative bodies,” Sandhu said.
Of the total sum of Rs 37.8 billion, Rs 1.2 billion has been earmarked for the current financial year ending March 31. Another Rs 8 billion is to be spent in 2008-09.
In 2009-10 and 2010-11, the Government proposes to spend Rs 11 billion each on the programme. And in the last year, that is the year 2011-12, it will spend Rs 6.6 billion.
The CCEA also envisaged putting in place "a suitable monitoring system," she said.
"After completion of two years, the Government would make an independent in-depth evaluation to assess the need for any mid-term correction," Sandhu added.
Sandhu explained that the only “pre-condition the Government has put for releasing these funds to the concerned districts, spread across the country, is that "the state government or union territory, as the case maybe, will constitute a state or district level committee for implementation of the Prime Minister's 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities.”