After facing flak, Maharashtra to release 100% scholarship fund
In November, the state cabinet had decided to release only 30% amount of scholarships and fee benefits provided by various departments of the government for the academic year 2017-18.mumbai Updated: Mar 09, 2018 00:56 IST
After colleges and social activists criticised the Maharashtra government’s decision to disburse only 30% grants for scholarships and fee benefits for students from socially weaker sections for the current academic year, the state has decided to release the entire fund.
On Wednesday, the state issued a government resolution (GR) announcing its decision to release 100% amount required for providing all pre-matric and post-matric scholarships and fee benefits to students belonging to Vimukta Jati (VJ), nomadic tribes (NT), other backward categories (OBC) and special backward categories (SBC). A similar resolution for scheduled caste (SC) students was issued in January.
In November, the state cabinet had decided to release only 30% amount of scholarships and fee benefits provided by various departments of the government for the academic year 2017-18. The state is required to release half the amount every semester. The decision drew flak from activists and colleges, as the students were unable to pay their fees on time, causing financial trouble at the institutes.
Last year, the state had decided to disburse the education aid to students through a direct benefit transfer (DBT) system – depositing money directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries instead of reimbursing their respective institutes. While a portal was put in place to facilitate the transaction, the state information technology (IT) department had trouble running it. As a result, the disbursement of scholarships was moved offline.
According to the office of the commissioner, VJ, NT, OBC and SBC Welfare, Maharashtra State, Pune, over 9.15 lakh students belonging to VJ, NT, OBC and SBC and 4.58 lakh SC students have applied for various pre-matric and post-matric scholarship schemes. The government has appropriated around Rs1,651 crore for VJ, NT, OBC and SBC students, of which Rs 915 crore (55.42%) have already been deposited into the bank accounts.
A government official said that they decided to release the entire fund, as the academic year is about to end.
“We will divert the surplus funds from other heads towards scholarships,” he said.
However, an official from the commissioner’s office said that the move was aimed at fending off criticism for the government.
“After the government decided to release the entire scholarship money of SC students, the colleges insisted that we release 100% grants for students from other categories as well. It earned the government a bad name,” he said.
Rekha Thakur, general secretary, Bharatiya Republican Party (BHARIP), said that the decision was taken out of political compulsion. “The government realised its mistake of diverting funds for social welfare towards providing loan waivers to farmers. The decision was taken keeping in mind the elections are approaching and unrest among OBCs,” she said.