Rs 2.2-cr scholarship scam in Chittoor
Chittoor, June 28: A major scam has come to light in the district Social Welfare department in which funds worth Rs 2.2 crore meant for scholarships for SC, ST and BC students were swindled by the officials concerned in connivance with managements of various private educational institutions.
This scam comes at a time when the student community has taken to streets demanding that the State government immediately release the scholarship amount pending since a long time.
In fact, the agitation took a violent turn in Kurnool last week with the police canning the students ruthlessly. The Social Welfare authorities, it is said, were adopting bullying tactics to hush up the voice of the agitating students in their bid to cover up the scandal.
There are 121 hostels run by the department in the district. Last year, an amount of Rs Rs 17.74 crore was spent on providing education to students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes besides Rs 8.39 crore on maintenance of social welfare hostels. Also, funds worth Rs 10 crore were spent on other schemes for SC students. And, regarding scholarships, Rs 78.4 crore was earmarked for matric and Rs 9.9 lakh for pre-matric students.
The targeted students include those studying in various private educational institutions, mainly junior and degree colleges, nursing schools, polytechnics, law and engineering colleges in the district.
The perceived weakness of these private institutions to make quick money came in handy to the officials to deprive the eligible students of their scholarships. The process goes something like this. First, the private colleges will prepare a list of bogus SC, ST and BC students, which will be approved by the officials without any cross-check or objection.
Then, the scholarship money will be disbursed to the colleges but not before the officials retaining the major share. So far, Rs 220 lakh was said to have been swindled in this fashion. But the irregularities came to the fore when the district Collector ordered a departmental inquiry on the basis of a complaint by a Law student from Tirupati.
Significantly, the officials had also failed to release the scholarships for the government educational institutions, an interim report said.
When contacted, department spokesman said they had received some complaints on mismanagement of scholarship funds. A clear picture could emerge only after the ASWOs submit their reports, he added.