Irked by a year’s delay in disbursing scholarships to nearly 540 students, a protest was organised by members of the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat (KKPKP) following which the social welfare officer finally assured that scholarships would be disbursed within 10 days.
The pre-matric scholarship for children of those engaged in unclean occupation is a scheme that entitles children of sweepers, tanners, flayers and waste pickers to an annual scholarship of Rs 1,850. According to an RTI filed by KKPKP, 540 applications had been filled online for the academic year 2014-15.
“We have only been hearing that Rs 1,850 would be given to each child. Since last year, I have filled out various forms including those for the next academic year, but I am yet to see a single rupee in my son’s account,” said Vaishali Maghade, a protestor.
KKPKP joint secretary Shailaja Aralkar said that social welfare officer Sanjay Kadam also agreed to announce a helpline number. However, this wasn’t the only complaint from protestors who alleged non-seriousness on the part of both schools and social welfare department in accepting applications.
“Of the 1,12,975 applications filled statewide this year, only 168 are from Pune. Not only have district officials failed in implementing the scheme, but the schools are equally responsible. They are either unaware of the scheme itself, or unwilling to fill the forms, or refuse to sign or even demand money,” said KKPKP treasurer Maitreyi Shankar.
On the other hand, Kadam said that the decision to disburse the scholarship amount was taken before the protest took place. “The delay took place because of an online software for the scholarship scheme that had been developed by a private company which had technical errors. We have sorted it and by December 28, the entire scholarship amount will reach the accounts,” he said.