Earn and learn scheme at Pune varsity in a soup, needs scrutinisation
The Savitribai Phule Pune University’s (SPPU) ‘Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Earn and Learn scheme’ is once again under scanner after allegations of fund discrepancies came to light. The Arun Adsool headed six-member committee submitted its report to the SPPU vice-chancellor last week with an observation that the scope of the fraud could involve at least 50 per cent of the students of the scheme and a loss of ‘few lakhs’ of rupees for SPPU.
In May this year, a committee was formed headed by former vice-chancellor Adsool, which submitted its report last week with plans to propose changes in the overall functioning of this scheme to make it more foolproof.
The Adsool committee has submitted documentary evidence and proof of the persons involved in this case after a detailed inquiry which reveals that fund discrepancy amounting to lakhs of rupees was done in the last two years in this scheme.
“During our investigation, many students approached us and startling revelations came to the fore. They brought to our notice some serious corruption underway in SPPU under the grab of implementing this scheme. To get benefit of the scheme, students who had completed graduation or engineering and were preparing for competitive exams, took admission in some postgraduate course like Arts, Pali or any other department. Then, these students did not attend any lectures or go to the department throughout the year. The attendance of such students was less than 50 to 70 per cent. However, they continued to avail the benefits of the scheme,” said Adsool.
“People took undue advantage of the system in place and now, we are going to focus on checking such ‘fake’ students. Genuine students suffered because of this, as there libraries were occupied, hostels were filled and even the refectory and mess were full. So, it has now become necessary to also check the attendance of students in their respective departments under the ‘earn and learn scheme’ in the last two years. As most of these students do not even apply for exams and just take admissions to get the benefits of the scheme,” he added.
According to Adsool, the officer-bearers of various departments also underwent rigorous grilling and investigation by the committee.
On June 25, minister of state for education Ravindra Waikar said, “A criminal complaint will be lodged against the people who are responsible for the fraud in SPPU earn and learn scheme.” He was answering a question raised by members of legislative assembly (MLA) Vijay Kale and Bhimrao Tapkir from Pune in the ongoing Maharashtra state assembly.
The next day, the committee submitted it’s report to the SPPU vice-chancellor Nitin Karmalkar and the same evening, the process of lodging a first information report (FIR) under Indian Penal Code Section 420 started at Chatuhshrungi police station.
The FIR was finally lodged on June 27 against those students and other people who are involved in the fund discrepancy case in the SPPU ‘earn and learn’ scheme.
Prabhakar Desai, director of the board of students' development at SPPU, said, “As this academic year ends, we had 1,500 students working under this scheme and after the admissions are completed for all the courses in SPPU, interested students can apply for this scheme. From this year, we are going to interview each candidate and then, according to the availability of work in various departments and verification of applicant, work will be allocated. This scheme is really good and helpful for needy students, it is unfortunate that some students have misused it. However, law will run its course.”