The Backward Classes Welfare Department works for social, economic and cultural development of the people belonging to SC and OBC in the State. The main functions of the Department are :
◊Promotion and implementation of educational schemes including training for enhancement of capabilities in them
◊Issuance of caste certificates and enforcement of reservation rules in services, posts and educational institutions
◊Implementation of schemes including income generation schemes for economic upliftment
◊Strengthening of infrastructure and creation of community assets for integrated development of the backward classes
◊Social and cultural development of the backward classes
BCW Department has introduced e-enabled services for issuance of Caste Certificates and disbursement of all types of Scholarship resulting in transparency, speedy disposal, easy access and increased coverage during last three years.
» Population Distribution :
Total population of SC in West Bengal as per 2011 Census is 21463270.
Total population of ST in West Bengal as per 2011 Census is 5,296,953.
Total population of SC (Literates) in West Bengal as per 2011 Census is 13,127,587.
Total population of ST (Literates) in West Bengal as per 2011 Census is 2,664,431.
The Departmental set up is as detailed below:-
◊Department of Backward Classes Welfare
◊Office of the Commissioner , Backward Classes Welfare
◊W. B. SCs & STs Development and Finance Corporation
◊W B Backward Classes Development & Finance Corporation
◊Offices of Project Officer-cum District Welfare Officers / District Welfare Officers at district Level
◊Offices of Backward Classes Welfare Officers in four Sub-Divisions :
» Nezat, Basirhat
◊Inspectors at Sub-Division and Block Levels
Issue of Caste Certificates is major activity of the department
Different activities of the Government of West Bengal towards welfare of the SC/ST/OBCs people are described briefly under the following heads:
Reservation :~ Reservation of the SC/ST/OBC people has been ensured in West Bengal by enactment of Act & Rules and Government Notifications. By enactment of the West Bengal Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Vacancies in Services & Posts) Act, 1976 and Rules framed there under, 22% posts for SC and 6% posts for ST in respect of services and posts under the control of the Government of West Bengal in establishments run or aided by the Government have been ensured. By issuance of notifications, 10% reservation for the Other Backward Classes ( Category "A") and 7% reservation for the Other Backward Classes (Category “B") in respect of such services & posts under the Government of West Bengal has been ensured. Provisions have also been made to administer and ensure observance of the reservation norms in all establishments. Level of adherence to reservation norms has improved during the recent past.
Reservation in admission to educational institutions: Similar 22% and 6% reservation for SC & ST has been made in respect of admission to all educational institutions. However, for the Other Backward Classes, reservation in admission @ 7% has been granted in respect of admission to Primary, Secondary & Higher Secondary courses only. Proposal for introduction of reservation in admission to higher educational institutions for the OBCs (both Category A & B) are under active consideration.
Caste Certificates: Caste Identification Certificates for the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes are issued in terms of provisions of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Identification) Act, 1994 by the Sub-divisional Officers for respective Sub-divisions and by the DWO & Ex-Officio Joint Director, Kolkata for Kolkata. Presently, about 70,000 , 80,000 certificates are issued every month. Online processing of Caste Certificate is operational in all Sub-Divisions of the State. Average no. of SC and OBC Certificates being issued per annum has considerably been increased to more than 8.00 lakh as compared to 2.5 lakhs prior to 2011. Statutory processing time has also been reduced from 8 weeks to 4 weeks.
Central Government Assistance: Government of India allocates fund to all State Governments towards welfare of SC & ST under three major heads, SCA to SCSP, SCA to TSP, Article 275 (1) of the Constitution of India. Allocation under these heads depends on guaranteed allocation of fund in the plan budget of all Government Departments proportionate to SC & ST population in the State. Government of West Bengal receives considerable amount of fund under these plans. SCA to SCSP is dedicated for welfare of the Scheduled Castes while SCA to TSP is dedicated to the Scheduled Tribes. Under SCA to SCSP, 90% fund is paid towards income generation schemes through bank loan and the rest 10% is earmarked for infrastructural schemes. Under SCA to TSP, 70% fund is paid towards income generation schemes and the rest 30% is earmarked for infrastructural schemes. Fund under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India is also received for infrastructural assistance in the tribal dominated areas.
On-line processing and disbursement of scholarships through Direct Benefit Transfer system has immensely benefitted the students resulting in enhanced coverage.
An innovative scholarship scheme, ‘SHIKSHASHREE’, has been introduced for SC students of class V to VIII in which 11.77 lakh students were covered within a period of three months. Scholarship is being paid directly to Bank Accounts of the Students. Applicant can apply online.
To cater to the demands of outstation students a number of hostels have been constructed. Under Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojna 35 hostels have been approved during last three years compared to only 9 during 2007-08 to 2010-11.
Uttar Banga Sech Samabay Prakalpa (UBSSP), a cluster based minor irrigation scheme for the poor and marginal SC farmers has created opportunity of enhanced income by increasing cropping intensity. During last three years 2,000 such sources were created in Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar Districts.
Creating employment opportunities through skill Development in various sectors has been accorded special emphasis during the last couple of years. In fiscal year 2014-15, 15,000 candidates were provided employment opportunities. “Ethnic Beauty Care”, innovative skill training in ‘Beauty and Personal care’ has opened up livelihood opportunity of SC female beneficiaries as beautician in rural Bengal. Till 2014-15, 7,000 trained women entrepreneurs have been developed.
SC candidates aspiring for IAS / WBCS were sponsored by the State Government to attend intensive training courses at Delhi. In the year 2014-15, 14 SC aspirants were sent to Delhi. Special coaching classes at ATI have also started.
The Department has initiated special recruitment drive to fill in vacant posts (reserved category) of various State Government Department with an objective to maintain the overall percentage of reservation in services and posts. Altogether 9,923 vacancies in 16 Departments were identified and recruitment process started to fill in 3,354 vacancies in the first phase.
POA Act and PCR Act: Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA) and Protection of Civil Rights Act (PCR) are two Acts which protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes against atrocities and un-touchability. West Bengal is not an atrocity- prone area. However, there are incidents of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in this State also and hence elaborate measures have been taken to protect the people belonging to SC/ST against such atrocity. State-level and District-level Committees have been formed, Special Courts under POA Act have been set up and Special Public Prosecutor to try the cases under POA Act have been appointed.Â However, there is no incident of untouchability registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
Besides, there is a provision of granting incentives in cases of inter-caste marriages. Presently a grant of Rs.30,000/- is allowed on each incident of inter-caste marriage.
Applicant can apply online.
Cultural Development: Besides different programmes for socio-economic development of the SC. During last three years, more than 1,700 SC students were awarded “Ambedkar Medha Puroshkar” with token cash ward of Rs. 5,000/- for their meritorious result in 10th standard Board Examinations.
Activities of the NGOs working for welfare of the SC/ST/OBC:
Ministry of Tribal Affairs Government of India sanctions grant-in-aid to different NGOs working for welfare of the Scheduled Tribes. The NGOs are to apply for grant-in-aid in a prescribed format prescribed by the GOI Department. The applications for grant-in-aid are enquired into by the district administration and specific recommendation of the District Magistrate is forwarded to this Department. There is a State-Level Committee for recommendation of the proposals for grant-in-aid. The Committee comprises representatives from different departments and established voluntary agencies like Ramkrishna Mission, Bharat Sevashram Sangha and Tagore Society etc. The recommended proposals are sent to the Government of India. Government of India generally grants 90% of the project cost and sends sanction-order direct to the NGOs. Generally, projects like Residential Schools, Non-residential Schools, Hostels, Mobile Dispensary, training centre for Computer, Shorthand, Typing, Craft etc. are taken up by the NGOs.
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, provides a grant-in-aid to various NGOs working for welfare of the SCs and OBCs. Similar procedure for applying and sanction of grant-in-aid as in the case of the STs are followed in this case also. Similar types of projects are taken up by NGOs in case of SCs & OBCs also.