Despite the stipulation that 12% of the budget of each governmental department be earmarked for the welfare of the scheduled tribes, chairman of the house petitions' committee Francis D'Souza claimed that the process wasn't being followed in Goa.
The committee is presently dealing with a petition filed by former Curtorim MLA Anton Gaonkar demanding a re-survey of areas populated by members of the scheduled tribes in the state together with notification of such areas.
While the petitions' committee had been dealing with the social welfare department all along to fulfil this demand, the latter has now passed on the responsibility to the ST department under the ministerial charge of Felipe Neri Rodrigues and the newly-created ST corporation under the chairmanship of Cumbharjua Congress MLA Pandurang Madkaikar.
D'Souza said, "To spend 12% of the budget on the ST population, one has to first notify the ST areas. Money can't be spent on non-tribal areas. The petitions' committee issued a notice to the social welfare department regarding this matter and was told in reply that no data was available. If it (social welfare department) has no data, how does it reserve seats in municipalities or decide reservations of jobs?"
Taking a jibe at the government, D'Souza alleged that it not keen on re-surveying or notifying ST areas because, "it will then not be able to spend the money meant for scheduled tribes anywhere else". He added that although the government has created an scheduled tribes department and an ST corporation, neither seemed to be doing anything constructive.
Anton Gaonkar, who has petitioned for 12% of the budget for ST welfare in Goa, could not be contacted for a comment despite repeated attempts.