The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India have identified diversion of scholarship funds worth Rs28.94 crore for the scheduled caste (SC) students studying at post matriculation.
The Post Matric Scholarship Scheme was introduced in 1944 for the educational empowerment of the students from the SC community by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. Five states, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh fall under this scheme.
The latest report from the CAG’s performance audit 2018, found systemic gaps in scheme guidelines, lack of planning, poor financial management and irregularities in disbursement of the scholarship funds. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry had requested the CAG to audit the scheme as the beneficiary states had been ‘increasing disproportionately to the budgetary allocation over the years’.
The report highlights, “a financial implication of Rs581.68 crore as well as discrepancies and inconsistencies in data generated through the web portals with an additional financial involvement of Rs455.98 crore.”
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It has also highlighted that there was no mechanism in place for the planning exercises of preparation of action plan/perspective plan for identification of eligible beneficiaries before submission of proposals for central assistance to the Ministry.
“Consequently, there were delays in payment of scholarship to 18.58 lakh students ranging between one to six years in Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.”
The CAG’s performance audit says, “the implementation of the scheme was constrained by an inadequate allocation of funds by the Central Government.” The beneficiary states’ poor financial management is also to be blamed. This has led to eligible students being deprived of the scholarships.
“There was excess payment of scholarship of Rs49.67 crore to 1.88 lakh students in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh during 2012 – 2017, due to incorrect application of rates.”
The CAG also highlighted the fact that the Ministry had not conducted any comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the scholarship scheme. By doing so, the Ministry would have identified the changes needed to enhance effectiveness and achievement.