Nagpur: Large number of colleges in Nagpur have come under the scanner of the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) probing the multi-crore scholarship scam which exposed the ugly face of educational authorities. The scam came to light when it was found that huge amount of money meant for the scholarships of poors students from reserved categories has been swindled.
Apart from Nagpur, colleges in Nashik and Pune regions also topped in misappropriation of scholarship amount in both social Welfare and Tribal Development departments,”Many colleges affiliated to Nagpur University are also part of the scam,” the officials informed. The probe revealed that a majority of nursing, BBA, BCA, BCCA, PGDCCA and those offering short-term courses in Maharashtra were allegedly involved in swindling the funds meant for poor students from reserved categories. The maximum number of these colleges were operating from one or two rooms without full-time teachers and infrastructure, according to the SIT report.
Many engineering, polytechnic, education, Ayurveda, agriculture and pharmacy colleges were also named by the investigating team along with a slew of computer networking and paramedical institutes offering short-term courses.
According to the SIT report, Nashik, Pune and Nagpur regions topped the list of colleges where scholarship amount, in both S have been misappropriated.
The State Social Welfare Department distributes scholarships worth around Rs3,000 crore every year to over 17 lakh students after their matriculation to post graduation. Those are distributed as per the Government Resolution (GR) of January 11, 2010 to SC, ST, OBC, SBC, VJ/NT and others.
The SIT team in its interim report recommended that offences be lodged against 70 such institutions which were clearly found to have indulged in the misappropriation. It strongly recommended recovery of the amount which is in tune of crores.
As per their estimates, there are over 26,000 colleges in Maharashtra which availed scholarship grant for their students between 2010 and 2016. The officials estimate that the scam may cross Rs7,000 crore if a thorough enquiry was completed with the help of the police.
They claimed that scholarships were illegally distributed to the nursing colleges even though the central government’s resolution doesn’t include the faculty. However, the Social Welfare Department brought it under the ambit of scholarships by twisting the centre’s rules.
The Indian Nursing Council (INC) had granted approval to two diploma courses — Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery (Nursing) and General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM). The colleges charge hefty fees in the range of Rs35,000 to Rs1 lakh for both these courses.
“We are surprised that the fee is fixed by the Shikshan Samiti (SSS) even though it doesn’t come under the purview of ‘professional’ courses,” said SIT officials.
After many complains, the department stopped scholarships to OBC, VJ and NT students in nursing colleges from 2015-16, but continued it for SC/ST and tribal students.
Officials added that BBA, BCA, BCCA, PGDCCA and other colleges mushroomed in Maharashtra after 2010 “solely to siphon off the scholarship grants meant for poor students”.
The SIT report mentioned that the maximum number of the colleges which were found to have swindled the scholarship amount are from Marathwada and they are followed by Vidarbha.
Explaining the modus operandi of the erring colleges, the officials stated that they only admit backward class and tribal students purely for “gobbling up their scholarship amount”. They usually didn’t admit those from general category as they don’t get any grants for them.