Ground Report | New Delhi: Dalit students scholarship funds; The Bihar government has reportedly diverted SC and ST scholarship funds in 2018-19. The Indian Express reports that the government has built roads and wings with SC and ST scholarship funds.
Dalit students scholarship funds used to build roads
Roads, wings, medical colleges, and government buildings were constructed using the scholarship money. More than Rs 8,800 crore has been earmarked for these projects from the funds earmarked exclusively for SC and ST scholarships.
At the same time, the government denied money to children who had been eligible for scholarships for more than six years, citing a lack of funds. This diversion of funds is made clear in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Report 2018-19 on the financial condition of Bihar.
According to the CAG report on the utilization of scholarship funds, the state government has allocated Rs 2,076.99 crore to the power department. 460.84 crore as loan. An amount of `3,081.34 crore has been earmarked for major road projects.
An amount of `1,202.23 crore was spent on dam construction and flood control projects. An amount of 1,222.94 crore was used for medical colleges. An amount of776.06 crore has been spent on the construction of office and other buildings of the Department of Agriculture. It is learned that the government has accepted the observations made in the CAG report.
diversion of funds
The 2018-19 CAG report, whose observations have been accepted by the government, reads: “The Committee observes from the CAG’s conclusions that funds earmarked for the development of SC and ST have been diverted for other purposes. The Committee takes a serious view of the matter and recommends that NITI Ayog should ensure that funds earmarked for the respective development schemes for SC / ST should not be diverted for other purposes under any circumstances ”.
But in its response to the CAG, the state Department of Finance, in fact, agreed that the diversion of funds from SC / ST heads is prohibited. “As a consequence of the allocation of the monitoring AWSC [Assignment for the Well-being of Registered Castes] to the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, periodic meetings are held with all the ministries/departments involved to verify all kinds of irregularities in expenditures. of AWSC…. financial progress made by ministries/departments is done in real-time. The Ministry of Finance (on August 23, 2016) has clearly stated that the reallocation of funds from SC / ST heads to other heads is prohibited, ”he stated.
And the government redoubled this position on SC / ST funds when Bihar Finance Minister Tarkishore Prasad stated in the 2021-22 state budget the highlights: “The fund for SC / ST is allocated in separate sub-headings. and it cannot be used for any other purpose.”
Meanwhile, the state government has again started inviting applications under the scholarship scheme, Kumar said. In a response to a PIL in the Patna High Court on the scholarship issue, the government said funding shortages were one of the reasons the scholarship was suspended.
The Superior Court has now asked the state government to respond to an affidavit from the petitioner’s attorney in which he asks how the state diverted the SCSP fund while citing a funding crisis.