About 8,000 girls married for over two years in two districts of Punjab are still waiting for their shagun.
The shagun scheme of the ruling government is stuck in bureaucratic maze.
The number of shagun seekers in the state might be running in lakhs, as the figure of 8,000 is only for the Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts.
Not a single of the 8,000 families, which had applied for the shagun from November 2009 to March 2011, has received any money in these two districts.
Surjit Kumar from Phagwara applied for the scheme in December 2009. "I am told we will get the money only after verification. I have no idea when and what will they verify," he said.
The scheme was first launched by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government in 2007.
All families from the scheduled caste community having annual income below or up to Rs 30,000 are given Rs 15,000 as shagun for the marriage of one of their daughters.
The government later also brought widows and backward class families under this scheme.Officials of the welfare department, not wishing to be quoted, blamed it on the district administration's inability to complete the verification process.
After reports of widespread scam in the scheme, the state government made it mandatory to check the financial and other credentials of the applicants.
The government asked all deputy commissioners (DC) to complete the verification process.
An official said the buck was passed on and on. "In most of the cases, sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) were told to look into the process. Then patwaris were asked to check the income records of the applicants," said an official.
In Phagwara sub-division, patwaris have not cleared a single case out of the 600 cases it has received. "How can we ascertain income of a family? We can only tell whether they own land or not," said a patwari from a Phagwara village.
Out of more than 2,000 cases applied during this period in the Kapurthala district, only 500 cases have been verified. In Jalandhar, out of 6,000 applicants, 4,000 cases have been cleared.
But even the families, who have been dully verified during this period, are yet to receive the grant.
"I have visited the district welfare office many times. They keep telling me the money has not been released yet," said Mohinder Pal, a labourer from Alawapur, whose daughter got married in February 2010.
Lakhwinder Singh, district welfare officer, Kapurthala, said the department was contacting SDMs to speed up the verification process.When contacted, HS Nanda, director welfare, said he was busy in a meeting. Later, he did not receive the call.
Another department official said the government had already released the amount in the cases applied from April 2011 to September 2011. "But this is only for the applications received after verification," he said.
He said the department was contacting the applicants who had applied from October 2011 to August this year to open their accounts.