Unaided private colleges in Punjab have decided not to enrol Scheduled Caste (SC) students under the centrally-sponsored post-matric scholarship scheme from the coming session. Reason: The state government has failed to release its share of Rs 1,250 crore for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic sessions.
The decision will affect over three lakh SC students admitted to around 1,000 private colleges across the state.
Under the scheme, which was launched in 2007, SC students studying in post-matric classes are awarded scholarship ranging from Rs 230 to Rs 1,200 per month. The students are also reimbursed compulsory non-refundable fees. The annual income of the parents should not be more than Rs 2.5 lakh to avail the benefit. In the centrally-sponsored scheme, the state’s contribution is just 10% to 15% depending upon the course. The funds have been delayed as the state government has failed to submit utilisation certificate to the Centre.
A joint action committee of 13 associations representing unaided private colleges has asked the state government to release funds for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic sessions. Action committee spokesperson Anshu Kataria said: “Around 3.15 lakh SC students were enrolled in 2015-16 and over 3 lakh in 2016-17 under the scheme. Private colleges are not in a position to admit students under the scheme till the government releases funds. If the funds are delayed, the colleges will have to charge fee from the beneficiaries,” said Kataria.
A delegation of private colleges had also met Union minister Vijay Sampla a fortnight ago for the release of funds. Sources say Centre will release Rs 115 crore and state government Rs 45 crore as a committed liability under the scheme. “The amount (Rs 160 crore) is not enough as it only makes 15%-20% of total outstanding payments,” said Kataria.
Punjab minister for welfare of SCs and BCs Sadhu Singh Dharamsot told HT that the Centre has agreed to release funds after receiving utilisation certificates of the past two academic sessions. “The previous Akali-BJP government is to blame for the mess. We are trying to streamline the scheme,” he said.
On the Centre’s apprehension that colleges were claiming more scholarships, the minister said a probe was already on.
PENDING WELFARE FUNDS
Post-matric scholarship: Rs 1,250 crore
For vocational training in ITIs: Rs 27 crore
Pre-matric scholarship: Rs 15 crore
Shagun scheme: Rs 58 crore