Arunachal: Tribal students protest in Itanagar over delay in scholarship funds

Arunachal: Tribal students protest in Itanagar over delay in scholarship funds

Arunachal Pradesh Education Minister assures efforts to expedite disbursement

Scheduled Tribe (ST) students of Arunachal Pradesh worried over the delay in the distribution of educational assistance which compelled them to take out a peaceful rally at Itanagar amid heavy downpours.

The inordinate delay in receiving grants or scholarships has affected tribal students with poor family backgrounds pursuing various higher education programs in the state as well as outside Arunachal.

A collective voluntary peaceful rally was held at Itanagar against the delay in disbursement of the Post Matric National Scholarship (PMNS)23-24 where the two Charter of demand were Immediate Disbursement of PMNS and the need for a permanent solution for delay every year.

Charpo Taffo Sonam the social activist coordinated the peaceful rally. The scholarship amount is transferred directly to their account as Direct Beneficiary Transfer (DBT) but this year it's an extraordinary delay.

Several tribal students speaking to IndiaTodayNE stated that they are on the verge of dropping out from various colleges across the state solely because of the delay in the release of scholarship funds.

The government allocates money and after that, the nodal agency starts integration of e-Grantz with the Union Government’s Single Node Agency, the Public Finance Management System (PFMS).

Charpo Taffo Sonam the coordinator of the rally speaking to IndiaTodayNE denied the allegation that this rally is being politically motivated.

“Cm stated that stipend release but stipend & scholarship are two different issues as state govt provides stipend but scholarship to tribal students been provided by Central Government. This is not 1st phase of assistance as earlier 8400 students got money of 22-23 remaining money of last financial year. I request state govt to change this procedure of Delay and follow of norms".

"Earlier in April it got credited but this year its extraordinary delay as several students from poor deprived backgrounds face many difficulties in giving rent, managing funds for books, admission & livelihood, this system should be changed permanently”, Taffo added.

According to Pasang Dorjee Sona, Education Minister of Arunachal Pradesh who spoke exclusively to IndiaTodayNE regarding the delay in disbursement of the scholarship amount.

“I have recently taken charge as Education minister so I would not comment on the delay that occurred in the previous tenure. I am also concerned & can feel the pain, and agony of my tribal students who are facing this delay of scholarship but they also should understand that there are a lot of steps and formalities involved in the process as our government got funds in the state exchequer from the Government of India on 20 June this year only which earlier comes much before. Our department is working day and night to disburse it through DBT accordingly asap".

"Whenever funds come from the Centre the file goes to the Finance department following budgetary support later & after that, we add state share which we take as a loan to facilitate the student's assistance from different sources of state government. In one go we will pay all the assistance to our students & later when the remaining installments come from centre we will repay the used amount to the state exchequer. I had a meeting with Deputy CM to sort out this regular problem we face by proper mechanism".

"Now after getting the funds from the state exchequer immediately with due diligence & NSP portal uploading procedures, we transferred the amount to Delhi Tribal Affairs Ministry and now it's out of our purview. Still our education department is following it in Centre as it's for our student's welfare & we gave 48 hours deadline which was assured to us but failed by Centre after clearing all the process".

"Now PMFS & DBT process is taking time but it has been solved now & money will be disbursed soon. Every year this delay comes into the limelight and now when I took over as education minister came to know that this assistance fund is of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs which comes to SJETA Social Justice Empowerment and Tribal Affairs accordingly but not our Education department took its responsibility by which it became an interministerial subject which is causing a delay which we will look upon & give it to line department for further convenience”, Sona added regarding the allegation that the State government used the funds in elections Sona termed it a baseless & hypothetical thing and asked how come the government will use the student's welfare fund & as its being received on 20th June after the election results.

Sona said that it's not easy to pull out money from the state exchequer as there are due diligence formalities in it & someone is diverting the issue befooling the innocent students and there are RTI provisions to get information as & when money comes into the state and what actually happened.

“Beyond human intervention, some technical snags came like in PMFS computer system in Delhi & weekend holidays came in between, Our department is continuously making efforts to get it disbursed to the deprived students & a permanent solution will also come into affect in future. Due to Parliamentary elections, the national budget got delayed & these reasons are cited to be reasons of the delay of funds in several welfare schemes of Centre”.

Arunachal Pradesh Cm directed the department to draw a foolproof mechanism, to avoid delay in releasing scholarships to tribal students. The state Government had released its share from its own sources to tribal affairs ministry for releasing the pending scholarship of the students in anticipation of funds to be received from the central government. From the money sanctioned to the department crores have already been released to the students in their respective accounts. The rest of the amount is being released simultaneously after following the due procedures.