Chandigarh: Criticizing Sukhbir Singh Badal for spreading malicious lies over free college education for SC students, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that, contrary to the SAD president’s claims and allegations, his government had already disbursed Rs.152 crore, post audit of 1683 Government and Private institutes.
Sukhbir’s brazen falsehoods had once again exposed the total lack of concern the Akalis had for the Dalits, who were not only deprived of their rightful dues under their rule but were subjected to all kinds of victimization and harassment at their hands, said the Chief Minister, lashing out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president for misleading the community with his false propaganda.
The Badals had always played with the sentiments of the Dalits and Sukhbir’s latest statement was another instance of the false and mischievous propaganda they had unleashed against the community, said Captain Amarinder Singh.
The Post Matric Scholarship to SC students to which Sukhbir was referring had been found to be full of grave financial malpractices under the SAD-BJP rule, said the Chief Minister, adding that a whopping Rs. 427.28 Cr. had been found objectionable in the audit, which had exposed the extent of wrongdoings that prevailed under the Badals, he said.
Sukhbir’s statement that the Congress government had not disbursed the Post Matric Scholarship to SC students for more than a year now was a blatant lie, which the SAD president was trying to propagate with an eye on the Shahkot by-election, said the Chief Minister, adding that the shameless fabrication had exposed the panic of the Akalis over their imminent defeat in the ensuing bypoll.
Dubbing Sukhbir’s charges as a bundle of lies, the Chief Minister said contrary to Sukhbir’s claims that the state had received the central government’s share under the scheme, there was a massive backlog of arrears yet to be received from the Centre. Apart from a Rs. 328.72 Cr. backlog of 2015-16, another Rs.719.52 Cr. was pending for 2016-17 and Rs. 567.55 Cr. for 2017-18, he disclosed.
The Chief Minister said the audit launched on his directives by the Department of Finance in July 2017 had exposed grave lacunae in the implementation of the scheme by the Badal government. It had been found that from 2011-12 to 2016-17, approximately 3606 Govt. & Private Institutes had claimed as fees under PMS SCs scheme, and out of these, audit of 1683 institutes had been completed while 1923 institutes were still pending for special audit.
To plug the malpractices, the Welfare Department had undertaken various changes in the scheme portal from the 2017-18 session, said the Chief Minister, adding that besides making Aadhar authentication and digital/scanned signature mandatory for every student, it had also been decided to fix the responsibility of the institute in case of bogus claims. Along with other measures, these changes had reduced the number of claims/forms received during the current 2017-18 session for SC students alone from 3,21,060 to approximately 2,90,000, resulting in savings of Rs. 151.96 crore under PMS-SC.
The audit, said the Chief Minister, had completely laid bare the extent of mismanagement and misconduct of the social welfare schemes under the Badal regime, as a result of which the real beneficiaries had been deprived of their rightful dues while the non-deserving had been fraudulently taking the benefit of various programmes meant for the Dalits.
It was the Congress government which had always increased the coverage of the Shagun scheme, hiking the amount from Rs.15000 to Rs.21000 after taking over the state’s reins last year, Captain Amarinder Singh pointed out, lashing out at Sukhbir for indulging in false claims and allegations for petty political gains. What’s more, despite the fiscal debt it had inherited from the SAD-BJP regime, the Congress government had, till December 2017, released Rs.122 crore to clear pending dues upto December 2016, he added.
Reiterating his government’s unwavering commitment to the uplift and welfare of the Dalit community, the Chief Minister further pointed to the waiver of loans upto Rs.50,000 from SC/BC finance corporations.