Funds in wrong hands! Rs 120 crore for SC/ST girl students remains unutilized

VELLORE: Apathy of education department officials and lack of coordination among the implementing agencies withholds at least `120 crore, which was allocated as assistance for thousands of SC/ST girl students under the National Scheme of Incentive to Girl Child Education (NSIGCE).

According to documents available, the Union ministry of Human resource development allocated `152.17 crore under the scheme between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

Out of which only `28.57 crore had been distributed amongst the beneficiaries from 2008-09 to 2010-11. On January 6, the Ministry took back the remaining `123.6 crore from the Government Business Branch of Canara Bank, New Delhi, the nodal agency for the scheme.

The scheme was designed to promote enrollment among girls from SC ST communities and retain them up to Class XII. Under the scheme, `3,000 would be deposited in each student’s bank account after they enrolled in Class IX. Those discontinuing after Class X would be entitled to withdraw the money with interest after they attain 18 years.

Ambiguity prevails over the disbursement of the fund and the channel to reach the beneficiaries. The MHRD, school education department of TN and the bank are giving contradictory details and statements over the number of beneficiaries, fund allocation and payments. Attempts to reach officials of the various departments proved futile.

Officials in the MHRD said they allocated `33.30 crore for 1,10,991 beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu whereas the Directorate of School Education said the total number of beneficiaries were 1,21,292. The education department furnished the details under RTI Act.

School education secretary T Udhayachandran, in an official communication, mentioned the number of matured beneficiaries for the academic year 2008-09 as 87,166 and the amount allocated to them as incentives as `36.38 crore.

But, deputy secretary of department of school education and literacy , MHRD, D K Goel, in his response to Karuppaiah’s petition said they received maturity data for 86,018 candidates for 2008-09.Of them, payment of `13.63 crore out of `33.30 crores was made to 35,645 students.