Punjab fails to kickstart direct cash transfer
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The ambitious direct cash transfer scheme of the UPA government failed to take-off in Punjab on the first day of its launch. Out of the 20 districts in country, three Punjab districts — Nawanashahr, Fatehgarh Sahib and Gurdaspur — were to begin direct cash transfer of post-matric scholarships for SC students from Tuesday.
The Centre had sanctioned Rs 3.98 crore in June for 2012-13 against a proposal of Rs 116 crore for post and pre-matric scholarships for SC students in Punjab. Though this amount was sufficient for SC students in the three districts, the state finance department is yet to sanction funds for 2012-13 to the Department of Welfare of SC and BC, which was to implement the scheme. Union Finance Ministry Joint Secretary Anil Goswami on Tuesday called up Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh and Principal Secretary (Finance) Satish Chandra in this regard.
"The scheme is meant for 2012-13 beneficiaries but the finance department has not released any money for the current year. We have a backlog of nearly Rs 70 crore of the last three years. Though online transfer was initiated by the department in the beginning of last year itself, no student of 2012-13 academic year has received the scholarship," a welfare of SC and BC official said.
Chandra, however, said the file was lying with the welfare department. "The funds for 2012-13 came to us in June but we did not get a proposal from the welfare department. We will release the money by tomorrow," said Chandra.
He added: "I had called a meeting of departments implementing the schemes today and funds will be released in due course of time. Out of the 34 schemes, Punjab has started online transfer in many schemes. We are also trying to expedite UID enrollments in these three districts to seed the direct cash transfer with bank accounts of beneficiaries. By February, we should be able to release the money directly from state treasury to the bank accounts of all beneficiaries."
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