M A I N   N E W S

Punjab SC schemes fail to take off
Most projects hit due to lack of funds
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
For the Punjab government, social welfare apparently means running the Shagun Scheme alone. The government is spending most of the funds earmarked for the Welfare of the Scheduled Castes and the Backward Classes Ministry on this scheme even as the cutting-edge projects formulated to better the lot of the SC and BC students are not being implemented.

Of the total Rs 70 crore released to the Welfare of SC and BC department, Rs 42 crore has been released for the Shagun Scheme -- girls of both the SC and Christian communities are given Rs 15,000 on their marriage. The scheme is already under scrutiny with a fraud having been detected in Faridkot district.

According to a review report of the Welfare of SC and BC department, which was accessed by The Tribune, the government apparently has failed to implement 90 per cent of the schemes formulated to better the lot of the SCs and the BCs in the state. The prominent losers are students. In some cases the state has even received money from the Centre for the schemes but it failed to put in its share.

According to the review report, in most cases the Finance department has stalled the schemes by making some observations to which replies have also been sent but to no avail.

Similarly, in some cases the Finance department has told the Welfare of SC and BC department that it had not received its proposals. Prominent cases where Central funds had been received include that of the Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana that envisages constructing hostels for SC boys and girls in schools and colleges. Of the total cost of Rs 12 crore, the state share was only Rs 2 crore. The Union government released Rs 1.33 crore in 2006-07 and 2007-08 but the amount could not be utilised due to the non-release of funds by the state Finance department. As a result, the utilisation certificate could not be sent to the Centre and now six proposals of Rs 8.21 crore are pending with the Centre.

Another similar case is the pre-matric scholarship scheme for the OBC students. The Rs 4 crore scheme has an equal Centre-state share. The Centre released Rs 1 crore in March last year. The state, on its part, has not allotted the Budget amount during the year 2007-08 in the revised estimates and during the year 2008-09 only Rs 40,000 was allotted in the revised estimates. Owing to the non-release of funds by the state government during 2008-09 the utilisation certificate could not be sent to the Centre and more funds could not be approved for the scheme.

The SC students are also losing out under another scheme that calls for supplying free books to them. Out of an allocation of Rs 17 crore, only Rs 2 crore has been released so far. A scholarship scheme for SC families whose children are engaged in unclean operations also could not take off with the Finance department advising that it be approached for funds after the approval of the revised budget estimates.

Another scheme for post-matric scholarships to backward caste students for which Rs 2 crore had been earmarked also could not take off with the FD saying it had not received the proposal. A scheme involving new courses for vocational training for the SC students for which Rs 5 crore has been allocated is also awaiting clearance. The FD has expressed its inability to release Rs 1 crore for another scheme proposing financial assistance to the SC youth for the commercial pilot licence.



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