Bihar SC ST Scholarship Fund: The Bihar government spent thousands of crores of rupees of scholarships for the students of the SC / ST category in the construction of roads and bridges etc. According to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report of 2018-19, the Nitish Kumar government spent Rs 8800 out of the funds received for the scholarship in other works.
Due to this, many Dalit students of Bihar did not get scholarships for six years. In Bihar, about five lakh SC / ST students get help from this scholarship every year, but it has not happened for the last few years.
Roads built with scholarship money
According to the Indian Express report, the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) had made a rule that the scholarship money of SC / ST students cannot be used anywhere else. Despite this, the Bihar government put this money elsewhere. Quoting the CAG report, the newspaper has told that the Bihar government,
- About 2077 crore rupees were given to the electricity department. About Rs 461 crore was lent to the department.
- Spent more than Rs 3081 crore for road construction.
- More than 1200 crore rupees were spent on the construction of the dam under flood management.
- It was delivered about Rs 1223 crore to medical colleges.
- Seven hundred seventy-six crores were spent in the construction of Krishi Bhawan and other government buildings.
According to the newspaper, in 2018-19, the Bihar government gave two reasons for not giving Post Matric Scholarship (PMS), firstly a technical glitch in the application website. And the second is that the government is short of funds. Since then, the process of using the scholarship money for other purposes has been going on. Because of this, no student got a scholarship for years. At the same time, in 2016, the government had also increased the fees, due to which the students had to face a lot of problems.
The Central Government has said in this matter that NITI Aayog should intervene in this matter. PMS money cannot be used anywhere else under any circumstances. On the other hand, the Finance Department of the Government of Bihar, while replying to the CAG, said,
“SC/ST funds have not been used anywhere else. All ministries and departments meet from time to time so that funds are not misused.”
At the same time, Sanjay Kumar, Additional General Secretary, Ministry of Education, Bihar, told Express that the Bihar government has again started inviting applications for scholarships. Only the finance department can say anything about the utilization of the fund. The department said that it has already sent its reply to the CAG and has nothing to say about it.
High Court summoned the answer.
After the reply of the Finance Department, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Patna High Court. Rajiv Kumar of Samastipur has filed this petition. His lawyer Alka Verma says,
“In the CAG report of 2018-19, the Bihar government did not respond to the misuse of money; from above, the government is saying that the scholarship could not be given due to lack of funds, while the Center would give more funds if needed. ready to give.”
Let us tell you that the High Court has sought an answer from the government on this petition.
What is PMS?
Under the Post Matric Scholarship, i.e. PMS scheme, every year, about 60 lakh SC / ST students of the country are helped in pursuing higher education. This scholarship is available to those SC / ST students whose annual family income is less than 2.5 lakh rupees. After passing 10th, such students are considered eligible for this. In Bihar alone, 5 lakh SC / ST students get this scholarship every year.
According to the rules, 60 per cent of the scholarship fund is given by the central government and 40 per cent by the state. Accordingly, the state has to spend about Rs 115 crore. If the scholarship money is less and the students are more, more funds are sent from the Center.
According to the Indian Express report, the Bihar government spent only 60 crores during 2017-18 and 2019-20. Due to spending less than its stipulated responsibility, Bihar could not get the share of the Center during this period.