The social welfare schemes in Kerala have been one of the significant USPs of the Left government. However, according to the state Planning Board, Kerala has performed poorly in spending funds earmarked for various crucial social security schemes under the Kerala Social Security Mission. Even as many people are still reeling under the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, the state has spent only 25% of the funds set aside for a range of social security schemes since the beginning of the current financial year.
An amount of Rs 160.46 crore was earmarked in the Kerala Budget 2021 for 22 schemes under the Kerala Social Security Mission. However, as per the state planning boardâ€™s Scheme Implementation Progress FY 2021-22, only Rs 40.14 crore has been spent between April 2021 and August 24, 2021. This is 25.02% of the total funds earmarked. For some of the important schemes, including the package for endosulfan victims, the state governmentâ€™s spending has been poor or zilch. The Kerala Social Security Mission, which comes under the state Social Justice Department, implements projects of the state government that directly benefit scores of underprivileged people. This includes Cancer Suraksha (covering treatment cost of cancer for children), Snehapoorvam (financial assistance for children of poor families), Thalolam (free treatment for children affected with chronic diseases such as haemophilia, cerebral palsy etc), to name a few.
An amount of Rs 19 crore was earmarked under a comprehensive package for the survivors of the aerial spraying of endosulfan pesticide in the Kasaragod district of Kerala. As per the data, as of August 24, the state government has spent Rs 3.68 crore on various packages for endosulfan survivors, which is 19.40% of the funds allocated for it.
Among the eight social security schemes with zero spendings so far are schemes for orphans, caregivers of patients with disabilities, the rehabilitation of unmarried women and their children, and persons with disabilities affected by the floods, among others. Some of these unspent schemes are Cancer Suraksha (Rs 3 crore allotted); Snehapoorvam (Rs 17 crore); Thalolam (Rs 2 crore); Assistive Solutions for Persons with Disabilities among the flood victims (Rs 50 lakh); Training, workshops, research and new initiatives (Rs 2 crore); District Early Intervention Centres (Rs 1.50 crore); Care providers for inmates of Institutions under Social Justice Department (Rs 2 crore); Sneha Sparsham (Rs 2 crore).
An amount of Rs 8 crore has been allotted for the Sruthi Tharangam scheme (cochlear implantation in children), but only Rs 2.34 crore has been spent so far. The state has spent 85.98% of the allotted funds of Rs 50 lakh on the Hunger Free City project, which aims to provide highly subsidised meals once a day to the public. Terming the lack of spending on social security schemes as unjustifiable, Kerala Opposition leader VD Satheeshan said that the lapse in spending should be monitored, especially when such schemes can benefit people during the pandemic.