The Maharashtra government has failed to utilise Rs450 crore it received from the centre to upgrade its Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), revealed sources from the directorate of vocational education and training (DVET).
Sources said this happened after the State Steering Committee (SSC), which monitors the upgradation scheme, put an embargo on the expenditure after a few institutes were found misusing the funds. Moreover, several ITIs were unable to spend the money because the government failed to hire teachers for new courses and appoint full-time principals.
According to the details provided by officials from DVET (HT has a copy of the document with details of expenditure under the scheme between 2007 and 2013), the centre had released Rs625 crore in interest-free loans to upgrade 250 government-run ITIs (Rs2.5 Cr per institute) by setting up Institute Management Committees (IMCs) in partnership with industries. The institutes have managed to spend only Rs167.26 crore till June.
Under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, launched in 2007, the centre intends to upgrade 1,396 government ITIs across the country. The institutes were required to associate themselves with an industry partner and set up an IMC, comprising the state and the industry representatives.
The IMCs, which enjoy financial and academic autonomy, were tasked with developing an Institute Development Plan (IDPs) for the respective ITIs and spend the money according to the plan. They have to repay the interest-free loan 10 years after receiving the money, with the first batch of ITIs expected to start the repayment from the next year.
“The industry is in need of skilled workers, but the state has limited funds [for vocational education]. The PPP scheme is one of the best projects, aimed at faster economic growth of the country,” said an official from DVET.
However, barring a few success stories, the scheme faced many roadblocks. Between 2007 and 2014, the ITIs, using PPP funds, increased their capacity by starting 378 new units, benefiting around 6,000 students. However, a number of planned new courses couldn’t take off as the state refused to create teaching positions for these course. Subsequently, around 20% IMCs have now become defunct, said a DVET official.
On the other hand, there have been allegations of the institutes misusing the funds. “We found that some ITIs are not spending the money as per their Institute Development Plans (IDPs),” said the official.
In 2014, the state appointed a panel headed by former DVET director KM Gedam to review the implementation of the scheme. The committee, which has submitted its findings to the state government a few months ago found that most of the institutes have hardly made any arrangements for the repayment of the loans.
The officials insist that while the scheme, in itself, is feasible, the administrative hurdles come in the way of implementation. “With less than 10 out of 42 posts at DVET filled by the government, it’s difficult to manage the workload,” said a top DVET official.