The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) started a scholarship programme for students of Classes X and XII four years ago with expected expense of Rs 4 crore per year. However,since the PMC did not put any restriction on income of beneficiaries,the number of students seeking benefit has skyrocketed,forcing the civic body to now shell out Rs 18 crore this year.
Compounding the problem for the civic body is the fact that its budgetary provision is mere Rs 8 crore for awarding the scholarship. Officials said the PMC will have to divert funds from other projects.
In 2008-09,parties launched the popular scholarship programme for students who score above 80 per cent marks in Classes X and XII. As per the scheme,the PMC will provide Rs 15,000 a year to those who score 80 per cent above marks in Class X and Rs 25,000 to those scoring above 80 per cent in Class XII for which the PMC earmarked Rs 4 crore but had to shell out Rs 4.8 crore.
“We have collected information from the state education board that conducts Classes X and XII results. The expenses for the scheme are likely to reach Rs 18 crore this year. We will have to seek diversion of funds to meet the demand,” said Dnyaneshwar Molak,joint municipal commissioner and in-charge of urban community development.
Molak said the PMC can do little if there is an increase in the number of applicants. “All the applicants submitting the required documents will have to be given the benefits.”
In 2011-12,the PMC had made a provision of Rs 7 crore but it increased to Rs 13 crore. With the increasing expense on the scheme,the civic administration had tried to bring in some check by allowing the benefit only for students whose parents’ annual income is less than Rs 5 lakh. But corporators had rejected the administration’s proposal.
“The increased amount is too much and this means tax payers’ money meant for development purposes would get diverted for this scheme,” said activist Vivek Velankar. The civic body should raise the 80 per cent pass criteria to 90 per cent so that the number of beneficiaries would reduce,he said.
Velankar said the annual income criteria would also ensure that the poor gets the benefit. The popular scheme to attract voters is turning out to be a scheme for promotion of corporators,he said. “The corporators put huge banners about the scheme in their electoral wards. They try to take the credit of the scholarship,” Velankar said.