New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) The Delhi government will soon bring a bill to penalise officials who misuse and divert funds meant for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) and is also planning to set up a Scheduled Caste Commission for the National Capital Region (NCR).
This was announced by Delhi’s SC and ST Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam in the assembly on Monday after the members expressed concern that more than five lakh SC/ST and minority students were not getting scholarships.
The minister’s remarks came after AAP member Adarsh Shastri raised the issue, referring to a report by the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC) which said that more than five lakh scholarships to SC/ST and minorities were yet to be disbursed in Delhi.
He said about 5.57 lakh scholarships were to be disbursed and there was a delay of about 16 months.
Shastri blamed the National Scholarship Portal (NSP), which is responsible for timely disbursal of the scholarships, for the non-distribution of the scholarships.
Participating in the discussion, AAP’s Alka Lamba said the students were victims of government’s incomplete Digital India initiative as the central government had opened NSP for timely disbursal of the scholarships.
Responding to the concerns, Gautam promised that there will be no pending scholarships from next academic session and added that a Bill, which has provisions for punishing officials who misuse and divert funds meant for SCs and STs, was in the pipeline.
The minister said the government was also working on another Bill for setting up a Scheduled Caste Commission in Delhi.
The matter was raised in the assembly days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Chief Secretary M.M. Kutty expressing concerns over five lakh SC/ST and minority students not getting scholarships.
Kejriwal said the files were never put up before the concerned ministry during the entire period from 2015 to 2017 and his government was kept in the dark.
The DDC, appointed by Kejriwal, said in the report that it examined 34 files pertaining to 12 schemes (seven centrally-sponsored and five of the state) implemented by the Delhi government and found that four of the state-sponsored schemes had “collapsed” in 2015-16 and “thousands of students” who had applied were yet to receive their scholarship, a delay of “more than 16 months”, by March 2016.
The report said that almost all the 12 schemes collapsed and around 5.57 lakh scholarships were awaiting disbursal by March 2017.
Kejriwal, who first came to know about SC/ST and minority students not getting their scholarships during his daily public meetings, urged Kutty to distribute all pending scholarships by July 15.