Punjab

Amidst the conflict of Centre-State, future of SC students hanging by a thread: Kainth

Punjab News Express | July 14, 2019 08:49 PM

JALANDHAR: Speaking to the newspersons here at the Jalandhar Press Club, Paramjit Singh Kainth, President of the National Scheduled Castes Alliance, a socio-politico organization working in the interests of the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and minorities, bashed the State government over its profound inability in dealing with the abysmal implementation of the post-matric scholarship in Punjab.

“Riddled with red tapism and corruption, the scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education. State government has been in constant tussle with the Centre regarding the allocation of funds under the scheme, evidently as recently as last week where the State government clearly showcased its lack of concern regarding the future of lakhs of Scheduled castes students by rejecting the proposal of the Centre to send the funds in 60:40 ratio with the Centre contributing the lions share after 2 years of pausation of transfer of funds by the Centre. Instead of welcoming this move, the state government clearly wants to shrug off its responsibility in providing a better future to these students.”

This allegation comes almost a week after a delegation of the NSCA met with the Hon’ble Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Shri. Som Parkash, Where they submitted a letter regarding the dismal situation of the scheme in Punjab. Later in the week, After the MoS Som Prakash forwarded the delegation’s request to Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Centre sent its new proposal to send the funds in 60:40 ratios to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

Kainth said, “the reaction of Capt. Amrinder Singh on the next day of the Centre’s proposal was a testament to the fact that in cases relating to SC’s, this government does not care at all, it adds to our notion which is picking up steam that this Congress government is hell bent on treating Scheduled castes as second class citizens. Article 38 which direct the State to provide a welfare state to its citizens, is clearly not in minds and plans of this government, which hardly considers SC’s as their citizens. The Hon’ble CM has otherwise never spoken on the issues of the Scheduled Castes but when it came to providing funds for the scheme from the State treasury, the CM instantly backed off and started blaming the union government.”

Kainth told, “An amount of Rs 425.92 crore, due for states of Punjab, Gujarat and Goa for the period up to 2017-18 could not be released due to non-receipt of enabling documents from these states. According to the recent report of the CAG (Report No.12 of 2018) on the post matric scholarship presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Punjab was home to widespread corruption by the private institutes. The performance audit of the implementation of the scheme brought out poor planning as the State. It neither had any database of eligible students nor had prepared any action plans for assessing the estimated number of beneficiaries and their timely coverage. In Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, Audit noticed discrepancies in data generated by the State portals with financial implication of ` 455.98 crore. The State government should refer the case to CBI to look into the various allegations against politicians and bureaucrats involved in siphoning off the funds from the scheme as has been done by the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.”

Kainth said. “In the report it was found that in Punjab, 3,684 out of 57,986 post matric students of 49 out of 60 selected institutes in six selected districts left the courses mid-session during 2012-17. However, fee as well Maintenance Allowance of ` 14.31 crore in respect of these students had been claimed by these institutions. In violation of scheme norms, 11 out of 18 selected government institutes collected the fee from 11,830 students and claimed the said amount from State Government. Out of these students, fee was not reimbursed to at least 9,696 students.”

In a review of the scheme done by a joint team of NITI Aayog and Ministry in three States of Maharashtra, Punjab and Telangana in October-November 2015, it was observed that the absence of cut-off date for receipt of applications for grant of PMS had made it extremely difficult to determine the year-wise claims of central assistance under the scheme as previous year’s backlog gets carried over to the succeeding year.

Alleging the State government of playing with the future of the SC Students, Kainth provided a list of figures which add fuel to the corruption ridden scheme which as the NSCA President said was in such condition due to the vested interests of the Politicians who have stakes in the private education institutes and who are clearly in no mood to provide any financial assistance to the SC’s in reshaping their future. “In the last couple of years, the State government and especially Capt. Amrinder Singh never mentioned the scheme in his briefings nor did he ever make an effort to provide relief to the lakhs of students whose academic careers were being hindered due to the paucity of the funds under the scheme. Even the 3 Ministers in the cabinet of the Capt. Amrinder Singh, belonging to Scheduled Castes community have never voiced their concerns over the students suffering due to the discrepancies in the implementation of the Post Matric Scholarship. Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment in the State Government have been unable to release a Utilization Certificate (UC) for the funds of this scheme in the 2016-17. The Minister should release a white paper regarding the corruption found in the scheme, he should also give justification to as why the institutes which were found to be misusing the funds under the audit done the State government, have not been punished under law.”

Kainth finally concluded saying, “This conflict between the Centre and State is detrimental to the upliftment and development of the Scheduled Castes community, especially when the conflict is regarding a scheme which is crucial to the future of the children belonging to the community. The State government cannot escape from taking over the responsibility for its people and it must step up and provide a credible solution and framework for the proper implementation of this Scheme and provide a structure of funds disbursement which is free from the nexus of corruption of the Politicians and the greedy private institutions. State should ensure accountability of officials and institutions for release of undue amounts as well as for non-release or delay in release of scheme benefits to the eligible student.”

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