Friday February 23 2007
Karnataka - Bangalore
Female foeticide a cause for worry, says Nesargi
Pramila Nesargi takes charge as Women's Commission chairperson
BANGALORE: The newly appointed chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, Pramila Nesargi, has said that nearly Rs. 17 crore set apart for welfare schemes for women is still to be utilised by the Department of Women and Child Welfare.
Ms. Nesargi, who assumed charge on Thursday, told The Hindu that her primary focus would be on the proper utilisation of the allocated funds and ensuring that the funds did not lapse. "I am not too happy about the scant funds currently allocated for the commission (Rs. 50 lakh). I think the Government should take a leaf out of Andhra Pradesh's book, which allocated Rs. 37 crore last year."
In fact, Andhra Pradesh has set up a State Women's Finance Corporation, with Rs. 34 crores in its kitty, to cater for the financial and investment needs of women in larger numbers. Karnataka should have one of its own to complement the functions and effectiveness of the State Women's Development Corporation, she said.
On top of Ms. Nesargi's agenda is to ensure that the unused funds do not lapse and are diverted to the schemes they are meant for. The negligible Rs. 50 lakh allocation mostly goes towards rent (Rs. 7 lakh), salaries (Rs. 14 lakh) and running seven helpdesks (Rs. 5 lakh). The remainder is too little to address even a single issue that the commission should be looking at, she said.
Ms. Nesargi is concerned about the falling gender ratio, particularly in Belgaum, where it is as low as 600 women per 1000 men.
In a village in Hassan, she was shocked to find a school attended only by boys. On enquiring, she was told that no girl child had been born in the village at all.
"Obviously, female foeticide is very rampant, and enforcement of the Pre-Natal Sex Determination Act is virtually nil. I think the Government must empower NGOs to monitor the implementation of the Act," Ms. Nesargi said.
The Government should ensure that one-third of the allocation of funds to all the departments was directed toward women beneficiaries. There was tardy or no implementation of several schemes for the girl child, and the Women's Commission would set about changing all that, Ms. Nesargi promised.
Another of her ideas is to grant two acres of land in every village to a women's cooperative and give each woman a milch cow, which will make them self-reliant and generate income as well.
Ms. Nesargi is also concerned about the implementation of certain laws, such as the Domestic Violence (Prevention) Act and the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention) Act. Protection officers to monitor implementation of the Domestic Violence (Prevention) Act have not been appointed, she said.
To work together
The Commission will work with women's groups, gram panchayats and other local bodies, institutions and organisations to ensure all the laws for women's welfare and safety are implemented, Ms. Nesargi said.