The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government has clipped the wings of a government company formed by the previous BJP-led regime for the welfare of the Maratha youth.
Vijay Wadettiwar, Minister for OBC, SEBC Welfare, informed the state Legislative Assembly Tuesday that while the company will continue to retain its autonomy, the government will introduce provisions making prior government approval mandatory for financial proposal it considers.
On the back of statewide protests carried out by the politically dominant Maratha community, the Devendra Fadnavis government, had on June 26, 2018, formed the Chhatraparti Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) in Pune, which was registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 for the educational and economic development of the Maratha community.
Mandated to provide guidance and training to Maratha students appearing for competitive exams and research fellowships, SARTHI is now facing accusations of diverting government funds meant for students to other purposes without the government’s knowledge and approval.
Replying to a calling attention motion during the proceedings in the House, Wadettiwar said the government has already ordered a full-fledged investigation into the matter. An internal government communication, a copy of which The Indian Express possesses, had earlier found that only Rs 2.75 crore out of Rs 23.66 crore, roughly 12 per cent, released by the government was used for students’ welfare, while the rest was allegedly diverted for work that did not have government’s approval.
“We’ve now appointed a committee under Additional Chief Secretary (Services) Sitaram Kunte to probe the matter,” said Wadettiwar, in response to queries over government action into the allegation of irregularities.
The minister, however, said allowances and fellowships to students enrolled with the institution will continue
unabated. While contending that the previous regime’s move of registering the institute under the Companies Act was erroneous, Wadettiwar said the current government had no plans to curtail budgetary support to the firm or slash its functional autonomy.
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