The Punjab Government has decided "in principle" that the disbursal of `15,000 each to women from Schedule Castes (SC) and Backward Classes (BC) under the Shagun Scheme would be done 15 days before their marriage, from January, a release said here.
The decision was taken by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal at a meeting with senior officers of the social security, finance and social welfare departments on Wednesday, it added. Sukhbir also asked the secretary, social welfare, Seema Jain, to simplify the procedure with self-attestation of documents to avail benefits under the scheme.
To check duplication of beneficiaries, Badal advised the department to cross-check beneficiaries randomly; and if any illegality was established the recipient would be liable to pay double the scheme amount as penalty besides other punitive action.
Overall, reviewing the ongoing welfare schemes for students belongs to SC and BC and minorities in the state, Sukhbir asked the officers to organise a meeting with the education department and issue instructions to all heads of institutes to make sure that all scholarship cases must be sent within time to provide help under post-matric and pre-matric schemes. Besides, he also directed the department to popularise the scholarship schemes through an advertisement campaign within 15 days, said the release.
Jain informed the deputy CM that `394 crore had already been released to 5.92 lakh SC and BC students for 2009-14 under the post-matric scheme, and all scholarships were disbursed upto 2014. Under pre-matric scholarship scheme, `42.68 crore were distributed to 1.89 lakh SC students in 2014-15. Besides, department has received `376 crore under this scheme for 2014-15. Sukhbir also asked the department to remove the upfront payment system for BC students to get the benefit.
He added that the state government would raise the issue with the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment to include Punjab under the Pradhan Mantri Aadarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) under which 1,000 villages having 50% or more SC population would be developed. He said that Punjab has the highest SC percentage population (31.94%) in the country and must be included along with Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. More than 2,800 villages (23% of all villages) in Punjab have more than 50% SC population, according to the release.