No lessons learnt: Even after scam, Uttarakhand removes biometric attendance for scholarships
Earlier this year, a scam was unearthed in distribution of scholarships to scheduled caste students.dehradun Updated: Oct 20, 2017 19:58 IST
A scam was unearthed in distribution of scholarships to scheduled caste students by the Uttarakhand social welfare department early this year.
After this, the government introduced some steps such as introducing physical verification of students and biometric attendance to curb corruption, but a fresh government order has brought back the old system much to the dismay of observers.
Under this scam, scholarship amounts were given to students studying in educational institutes in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and other states, but later on the existence of these students was found to be fake.
A Special Investigative Team (SIT) is looking into the matter. The scholarships are given to students after achieving 70% attendance.
These scholarships are known as post matric scholarships and are given top students of the reserved categories after they complete high school when they achieve 70% attendance in their institutions. The scam is said to be worth around ₹100 crore.
The state government on May 3 taken the decision of verifying the scholarships distributed between 2014-2017 and said the new scholarships would be distributed after the district magistrates give their reports within a month.
The government had said the scholarships would only be distributed after a verification certificate that says that the pupil is genuine. This has been done to curb corruption.
The government had also said wherever possible, the institutes must make provision for biometric attendance of the students so that their existence can be verified.
Dr Ranvir Singh, the additional chief secretary of Uttarakhand, issued a fresh government order on October 17, saying biometric attendance and physical verification certificate by the DM would not be compulsory for distribution of scholarships.
The scholarships would now be distributed on the basis of caste certificate and the word biometric should be taken as nullified, said the order.
Social welfare minister Yashpal Arya could not be contacted for his remarks despite repeated attempts.
Haldwani-based advocate Chandra Shekhar Kargeti, who had filed a petition on the issue, said the scholarship scam had led to the need for more checks and balances in giving scholarships to students as there is possibility of foul play.
He, however, said this was a unique instance in which the government was issued order nullifying its previous decisions aimed at transparency and curbing corruption.
The whole world is going for modernisation and steps as biometric attendance and here the government is reverting back to the traditional system that has been proved to have harboured corruption in the past, said Kargeti.