The state government’s Shagun scheme, introduced to encourage and facilitate the marriage of financially poor girls, has come to haunt the beneficiaries in Sardulgarh subdivision of the district as, in a recent audit report, it has been found that the 100 families, who were given funds under the scheme, were not eligible for them as their daughters were minor and below marriageable age.
According to the audit report, during 1998-2000, nearly 100 girls, who got married, were reported to be minor. Now, the state government has decided to recover the money, which was granted to these families under the scheme.
“Around three months ago, the audit report indicated that almost 100 girls and their families, who received `5,100 each, were minor and their marriage was illegal. But, we cannot lodge an FIR or take any legal action as most of the beneficiaries are now having one or two kids. We have sent them a notice asking for refund,” said Sardulgarh SDM Harcharan Singh. “People approach doctors to get their daughters certified as adults after medical checkup. This is perhaps the reason that so many minors got married under the nose of the administration and nobody had an idea about it,” the SDM added.
The recent case poses serious questions over the administration’s lapse in recognising the eligible claimants for this scheme.
On being asked as to why there was no verification earlier while giving the funds, the SDM said, “It was the responsibility of the then SDM under whose supervision these funds were distributed.”
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Pravin Kumar Thind said that due to frequent changes in the scheme, it has become very tough for the officials to track the most eligible claimants of the scheme.
“Initially, this scheme only targeted SCs but later people belonging to other backward castes were also included. This, in turn, has made the task a bit tough for the officials to recognise who deserve assistance under the scheme. On many such occasions, the locals compel the tehsildar and the officials concerned to include their names for assistance under the scheme. So, we will enquire about all this.”