Centre Probing Multi-Crore Post-Matric Scholarship Scam, Says Minister

Vijay Sampla said the post-matric scholarship was launched in 2008-09 and under it the department used to provide an amount to the states.

Centre Probing Multi-Crore Post-Matric Scholarship Scam, Says Minister

The Social Justice and Empowerment Department is already conducting an inquiry into the matter

Shimla:

The central government is conducting an inquiry into an alleged multi-crore scam in post-matric scholarships for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes students, Union minister Vijay Sampla said Sunday.

Talking to PTI on phone, the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said, "We got reports about the scam from not only Himachal Pradesh but other parts of the country as well. Scam of Rs 450 crore was also reported from my home state Punjab."

"Taking cognisance of these reports, the Social Justice and Empowerment Department is already conducting an inquiry into the matter," Mr Sampla said.

An audit of the distribution of post-matric scholarship was also on and appropriate action would be taken after getting a report on it, he said.

The department was considering taking corrective steps to check fraud and the scholarship money might now be directly deposited in the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of eligible SC/BC/OBC students after checking their attendance in educational institutions, he added.

Mr Sampla said the post-matric scholarship was launched in 2008-09 and under it the department used to provide an amount to the states.

Later, an online system was launched and the states directly deposited the scholarship amount to bank accounts of the beneficiary students whose annual family income was below Rs 2 lakh. The amount was then revised to Rs 2.5 lakh, he said.

The students would be provided the money for fees, books and other financial support as scholarship but there were several reports across the country that the money was being deposited in fake bank accounts, Mr Sampla said.

An FIR was registered by the Himachal Pradesh Education Department in Shimla Friday through its official, Shakti Bhushan, who had conducted a preliminary inquiry into the alleged scam.

During the probe, it was found that 250 students of Kangra district took admissions in two centres of Fatehpur and Vadukar centres (Karnataka) of Lovely Professional University (LPU), they added.

The scholarship money was deposited in fake accounts which were opened using the students' Aadhaar details, they added.

A total scholarship amount of Rs 260 crore was distributed to students from the state from 2013-14 to 2016-17, a state education official said.

The official said only Rs 50 crore was distributed for students studying in about 2,500 government institutions in the state. Rs 210 crore was distributed to students shown to be studying in 300 private institutions, located in and outside Himachal Pradesh, he said.

A state official said the Himachal Pradesh government had already decided to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.