Pend­ing for 4 years, state in­sti­tu­tions yet to get ₹1,853 crore in post-ma­tric schol­ar­ship

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTPUNJAB - Navra­jdeep Singh navra­jdeep.singh@hin­dus­tan­times.com

PA­TIALA: The much-hyped cen­trally spon­sored post­ma­tric schol­ar­ship scheme for the sched­uled caste (SC) stu­dents seems to be in the dol­drums as funds to the tune of ₹1,853 crore have not been re­leased for the past four years to var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Pun­jab.

It was in the 2015-16 aca­demic ses­sion when the col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in the state, both pub­lic and pri­vate, were last paid the funds un­der the scheme. Now, the schol­ar­ship has turned into a fi­nan­cial bur­den for th­ese in­sti­tu­tions due to the pen­dency that was ₹415 crore in 2016-17, ₹538 in 2017-18, ₹437 crore in 2018-19 and ₹450 crore in 2019-20.

In Pun­jab, over 2.5 lakh stu­dents be­long­ing to the sched­ule castes are the di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the scheme.

Un­der the scheme, the schol­ar­ship (mainly as aca­demic fee waiver) is paid to the stu­dents whose par­ents and guardians’ an­nual in­come from all sources does not ex­ceed ₹2.5 lakh.

“As per the terms and con­di­tions, the Pun­jab gov­ern­ment was to take over the cen­tral scheme and had to bear the cost from 2016 on­wards. Be­fore 2016, the scheme was 90% fi­nan­cially spon­sored by the Cen­tre. There­after, the state gov­ern­ment failed to take over the scheme and the Union min­istry of so­cial jus­tice and em­pow­er­ment stalled the fund­ing,” an of­fi­cial said.

An­shu Kataria, pres­i­dent, Pun­jab Un­aided Col­leges As­so­ci­a­tion (PUCA), said the amount has been stuck in the cor­re­spon­dences be­tween state and cen­tral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and they have failed to re­solve the is­sue so far.

“We came to know that the funds worth ₹309 crore were re­leased to the state in March but they have not been dis­trib­uted to the in­sti­tu­tions yet as a re­sult of which they are un­der huge fi­nan­cial stress. Also, there is no clar­ity on giv­ing ad­mis­sions to stu­dents un­der twhe scheme in the com­ing 2020-21 aca­demic year,” he said.

Pun­jabi Univer­sity, Pa­tiala, regis­trar Prof Man­jit Singh Ni­j­jar said they have re­peat­edly writ­ten to the state gov­ern­ment to clear their dues to the tune of ₹46 crore un­der the scheme. “We have not re­ceived any funds in the past four years,” he added.

Kirpa Shankar Saroj, ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary (so­cial jus­tice, em­pow­er­ment and mi­nori­ties) said talks are on with the Cen­tre to re­lease the pend­ing ar­rears un­der the scheme.

“It is not pos­si­ble for the state gov­ern­ment to clear ar­rears from its own re­sources. It is pri­mar­ily a cen­tral scheme and there­fore we have taken up the is­sue with the de­part­ment con­cerned for set­tle­ment of pay­ments,” he said.

As far as adopt­ing the scheme is con­cerned, the ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary said their de­part­ment has pre­pared a blueprint to come up with a sim­i­lar plan.

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