4,800 TN kids got scholarships meant for college students
CHENNAI: Nearly 4,800 school children (less than 14 years old) in Tamil Nadu received government scholarships intended for engineering, medical and other college students between 2012 and 2017, shows official data. Another 2,100, all aged above 55, received financial benefits under
the Post Matriculation Scholarship (PMS) scheme aimed at benefiting poor dalit students, the data says.
The scam, which could amount to a loss of around Rs 20 crore, has been confirmed through an audit to study the disproportionate increase in demand from TN compared to the budget allocated under the scheme.
When contacted, Otem Dai, additional chief secretary, Adi Dravida and Tribal Welfare Department, said that they were yet to receive a copy of the audit report.
A government source said several colleges had manipulated the online scholarship portal through which the applications were processed, and had uploaded duplicate entries. “Through this, ineligible candidates some of whom were less than 14 years of age and others were over 55 years of age managed to draw funds. Not only those ineligible due to age, even non-dalits and those belonging to affordable sections of society managed to gain financial benefits,” the source added.
Only those belonging to the SC community and whose annual parental income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh are eligible to get the scholarship which covers not only tuition fees but also maintenance allowance, study charges and book allowance.
Under the scheme, once a student applies for the scholarship, the respective institute forwards it to the district-level Adi Dravida Welfare Department (ADW) officials. After this, the ADW authorities verify it and send it to the head office in Chennai which finalises the list of students and sends it to the Union social justice and empowerment ministry.
“This portal is not foolproof and accepted incorrect data. Using this loophole, student details were manipulated and ineligible candidates were added to the beneficiaries list,” the source added.
Source: The Times Of India, Sept 05, 2018