The Centre today asked all states and Union territories to implement the law in letter and spirit to curb incidents of atrocities against Scheduled Castes, saying it is the need of the hour.
Presiding over a meeting here of principal secretaries of states/UTs of social justice departments, Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the government has made amendments in the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act providing for more stringent punishment and enhanced quantum of relief amount to the victims.
"I would call upon the states and UTs to implement the act in letter and spirit so that atrocities against the Scheduled Castes are curbed," the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment said.
He said states should expedite implementation of the provisions of the amended Act and work for awareness generation and sensitisation of police and other officials about its provisions.
Expressing concern over the practice of manual scavenging, Gehlot asked states to ensure the inhuman practice is eradicated.
The minister said the government has been implementing various schemes for educational, economic and social empowerment of SCs, OBCs and added that to ensure effective delivery of the schemes, the Centre and the states should join hands.
Scholarships for SCs, OBCs and denotified tribes are part of the flagship programmes of the ministry, he said.
To ensure speedy and transparent delivery of benefits for these categories, the Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) mode has been launched by the ministry, he said.
Gehlot said the government is also launching the National Scholarship Portal and asked states to come on board and take up Aadhar seeding in right earnest so that delivery can be ensured to genuine beneficiaries.
He said the ministry is implementing Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPO) as there is a need to play a more pro-active role to ensure that the ageing population has a dignified and safe life.
On the menace of drug and alcohol abuse, he said the Centre is implementing a scheme through Regional Resources and Training Centres (RRTCs) and non-governmental organisations to create awareness and rehabilitate the addicts.
He called upon the states/UTs to play a more active role in curbing the menace and supplement the Centre's efforts with their own schemes.
Transgenders, beggars and destitutes are the other groups which need greater attention and initiatives should be taken up for their welfare, Gehlot said.
He released a report prepared by DNT Commission about the issues related to Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes in the presence of commission's chairman Biku Ramji Idate.