After 11 FIRs were completed as part of the Jharkhand scholarship scam, the state government has now ordered its agents to ‘physically check’ all schools and applicants seeking scholarships. studies under the authority of the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs for 2020-2021.
In a letter dated 19 November and sent to all deputy commissioners, Welfare Secretary Amitabh Kaushal also ordered that the necessary steps be taken to recover the scholarship paid to bogus beneficiaries in previous years.
A detailed investigation into the matter revealed that the scholarship intended to help students from minority communities was being hijacked by a network of intermediaries, school staff and district officials.
Depending on the modus operandi, either bogus beneficiaries were created or students were tricked into letting them apply on their behalf and pocket a share of the money.
After the scam came to light, the state government has now said a physical verification would be needed to prevent “a repeat of irregularities and embezzlement”.
The last command reads: “During the physical verification, it should be specified whether this student is from the relevant institute and whether he is eligible.
“It would also be necessary to check whether the institutes which ask for youth hostels or not have a hostel infrastructure”, indicates the letter of the secretary for social protection.
However, the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which administers the program, has yet to require a physical verification.
The Center had disbursed 61 crore rupees to Jharkhand as part of the pre-Matric program for 2019-20. More than 2 lakh students applied for it and more than 84,000 got the scholarship.
But The Bharat Express News has tracked hundreds of requests from 15 schools in six districts and discovered how multiple layers of verification, from school to state level, failed to detect the scam despite checks. such as Aadhaar IDs and fingerprints.
Program standards state that claims must first be verified by designated node officers in schools who are registered with district welfare officers. Applications are then verified by district and state nodal officers before being sent to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which verifies and uploads them to the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) before disbursement via direct transfer. benefits (DBT).
However, it was found that in several cases these standards were not met. Intermediaries either convinced school owners or node agents to provide NSP login credentials and passwords, or used fake school notebooks to obtain them.
Then they enlisted the correspondent banks to open the accounts of potential beneficiaries using their Aadhaar cards and fingerprints before applying on their behalf with the help of district officials.