Corruption in Dalit Bandhu selection process deprives those who genuinely qualify

It’s worth noting that there is no online application process for the Dalit Bandhu scheme, and the application acceptance is limited to offline submissions.
Dalits stagging a protest
Dalits stagging a protest

SANGAREDDY/HANAMKONDA /MULUGU/MAHABUBABAD: The BRS government is facing widespread criticism for alleged irregularities in the selection of beneficiaries for its flagship Dalit Bandhu scheme.

Concerns are being raised from various corners of the erstwhile Medak district, with accusations that the selection process is driven by commissions demanded by ruling party members and ineligible people who are financially settled are being selected as beneficiaries.

In Gajwel, represented by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, protesters resorted to burning effigies of sarpanches, MPTCs, and even the chief minister himself. Ankireddypally village in Kondapaka Mandal has witnessed regular demonstrations by Dalits, who claim that local public representatives demanded Rs 1 lakh each from nine beneficiaries for selection under the Dalit Bandhu scheme. They also claimed that those who had availed the benefit are not genuinely in need.

The residents of Ankireddypally staged a four-day protest, demanding that land, jobs and property be rightfully allocated to impoverished Dalits. District collector Prashanthi Jeevan Patil has been informed of their grievances.

Similarly, in Gummadidala, Patancheru constituency, Dalits staged a protest and set fire to an effigy of the chief minister. Dalits in Rajampeta Colony of Sangareddy town implored the district collector to direct funds towards truly underprivileged Dalits, rather than those who are financially well-off.

The primary goal of the Dalit Bandhu scheme is to uplift economically disadvantaged Dalits, fostering their financial progress. In its first phase, the scheme sanctioned 100 beneficiaries per constituency, while the second phase allocated 1,100 beneficiaries per constituency. However, the application process has encountered issues. The authorities are only accepting applications endorsed by MLAs and BRS constituency in-charges, rather than directly from the beneficiaries. Some applicants who approached the SC Corporation office were asked to seek recommendations from MLAs.

This practice has led to an influx of applications from ruling party sympathisers and activists at MLA offices. The officials select applications, which are then sent to the district Collector for approval. These applications are subsequently routed to the Mandal development officers in rural areas and municipal commissioners in urban areas before being processed online.

To qualify for the Dalit Bandhu scheme, the annual income of the beneficiaries must not exceed `1.50 lakh in rural areas and Rs 2 lakh in urban areas. A valid ration card is also mandatory. Some applications have been rejected due to missing ration card submissions.

Many public representatives in the former Medak district have not yet forwarded applications to the Collector. Sangareddy MLA T Jayaprakash Reddy submitted 1,500 applications, while former MLA Chinta Prabhakar, the BRS constituency in charge, forwarded 1,200 applications. The authorities are expected to scrutinise these applications at the ground level, conducting inquiries and entering the details online. Eligible beneficiaries will be recommended by the MLAs for the Dalit Bandhu scheme.

Critics allege that lower-level leaders are demanding hefty sums, ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, from beneficiaries for securing their selection. Notably, the government has yet to allocate a budget for the districts under the scheme’s second phase. Ramachari, executive director of SC Corporation for Sangareddy district, stated that funds would be released after beneficiary selection proposals are submitted.

Meanwhile, the erstwhile Warangal district received 4,080 applications for the second phase of the scheme. These applications are currently under scrutiny and will subsequently be submitted to the district collectors. 

Data from the Hanamkonda district indicates that 3,800 applications were received for the Dalit Bandhu scheme’s second phase. Comparatively, only 231 applications were received in Mulugu and 50 in Mahabubabad. 

It’s worth noting that there is no online application process for the Dalit Bandhu scheme, and the application acceptance is limited to offline submissions.

In the initial phase of the scheme, a total of 677 beneficiaries were selected across Mahabubabad, Hanamkonda and Mulugu districts. Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the list will be assessed and shared with the local MLA and district collector after verification. 

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