Culture ignored, Ministry least priority for govt: Parl panel


New Delhi, March 6: A parliamentary standing committee has expressed dismay over the government giving “least priority” to the Ministry of Culture by reducing or marginally increasing its fund allocation over the years.
A department-related parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture in its report on the demand for grants of the Ministry of Culture which was tabled today in both the Houses said that it was ‘distressed’ to note that against a projection of Rs 3156.23 crore at RE (revised estimate) 2017-2018 an amount of Rs 2666.94 crore as ceiling of RE 2017-2018 was allocated by the Ministry of Finance.
This is a further reduction from budgetary allocation of BE (budget estimate) 2017-2018, it said.
The committee, headed by Trinamool MP Derek O’ Brien and comprising ten Rajya Sabha members and 31 Lok Sabha members, noted with “dismay” that though the Ministry of Culture has demanded more allocation at RE stage in 2017-2018 for works including preservation of monuments, the Ministry of Finance reduced the allocation, “which is a clear indication that the Government is giving least priority to the activities of Ministry of Culture”, the report said.
It has also said that the budgetary allocation for 2018-2019 has been marginally increased by 3.83% from BE 2017-2018 which, the report said was “not an increase at all considering the inflation”.
“This committee is unhappy to note that culture has not been giving due attention and totally ignored by the government,” it said.
The report stated that the ministry has informed the committee that due to the cut in allocation, the functioning of the Archaeological Survey of India and various museums may be affected. The committee has recommended that the ministry should pursue an increase in budget allocation during RE 2018-2019.
“The activities undertaken by the Ministry of Culture are very crucial in maintaining the cultural identity of the nation by highlighting and preserving its rich cultural heritage,” the report stated.
While it expressed unhappiness with the government for low allocation, the panel also chided the ministry for underutilisation of funds, which the committee felt showed “inefficiency” on the part of the ministry.
The committee has also noted the problem of a large number of vacancies in different institutes affiliated with the ministry and recommended that an inquiry panel is constituted to look into the ministry’s failure to fill up key posts in National Gallery of Modern Art for over a decade. (PTI)