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Colleges in the state will face strict action for bogus scholarship benefits sought for students falling in the revised Economic Backward Class category. A day after the Maharashtra Cabinet eased the annual income criterion and extended concessions for higher education to those with family income below Rs 6 lakh, the state’s higher and technical education department has put the onus of implementing the benefit on the qualifying colleges and universities.
A government resolution (GR) Friday made the qualifying educational institutes responsible for full online disclosure pertaining to the applying students. Sources revealed that the state was in the process of developing a centralised online management system for such reimbursements.
In the face of Maratha rallies that have rocked the state recently, the government has unveiled a series of measures aimed at placating teenagers who are at the heart of the protest. The biggest concession is in the form of reimbursements of 50 per cent fee for all eligible students pursuing higher education.
The GR stated that for professional courses where no mid-term examination is held, the educational institute concerned would have to “certify” that an applying student had met the minimum attendance norms and was regular in studies. “Action would be initiated against the institute if bogus certification is provided,” it says.
While the fee reimbursement scheme was previously open to students whose annual family income was below Rs 1 lakh, sources said several complaints about the money being siphoned off or misappropriated have been received since 2006-07, when the initiative was first rolled out.
Now, with the benefit extended to more students, the government has decided to strengthen safeguards too. According to the GR, the reimbursements will be issued only after a government regulatory authority or another competent body validates the authenticity of the students’ online application. According to the proposed model, the education institute will be permitted to collect only 50 per cent of the annual education fee from an eligible student, while the state would deposit the remaining in its bank account after approving the applications. Earlier, some educational institutes have protested over delays in disbursement of the government’s share of education fee, sources confirmed.
The government has also linked the student’s Aadhaar card to the concession, while imposing the condition that the income validity certificate would have to be provided by an officer not below the rank of a Tehsildar in a district. While all the students whose annual family income is below Rs 2.5 lakh will be eligible for the concession, a student falling in the Rs 2.5 lakh-Rs 6 lakh income bracket will have to secure 60 per cent marks in the HSC exam to avail the benefit. The same condition has been placed for courses where SSC marks are the entry-level criterion.
The government has also said that it would verify that an applicant has passed examinations of the previous year — an ATKT will be tolerated — before reimbursing the fee for the following year. Estimating that the revised benefits will cost the state exchequer over Rs 700 crore per annum, the government has asked its departments concerned to use the contingency funds for now. A supplementary grant will be raised for the provision in the winter session of the state legislature, sources revealed.
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