In a bid to curb delay in disbursal of post matriculation scholarships, the state social justice and special assistance department has decided to start a new smart card system for students.
Minister of Social Justice Dhananjay Munde told The Indian Express that students eligible for post matriculation scholarships from his department will soon be issued RuPay cards issued by the Centre’s National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that can be used for ATM, point of sale and online transactions.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express had highlighted how budget cuts and red tape had delayed post matriculation scholarships due in 2018-19 and 2019-20 for 9.09 lakh students from disadvantaged sections across the state.
Of the 9.09 lakh students awaiting disbursals, 62,593 are from the Scheduled Castes, for which the scholarships are handed out by Munde’s department. According to sources, the department has undisbursed scholarships totalling Rs 42 crore.
“Despite switching over to direct benefit transfers (DBT) in 2017-18, there is still considerable delay in disbursal in several cases, which puts students in a quandary. This is why we have decided to launch the new smart card programme,” said Munde.
Currently, once a scholarship application is approved by the department, the amount is withdrawn from the treasury and pooled in a central account, which then transfers it to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of students.
The financial inclusion story is far from over and there are bank accounts that are still not linked with the Aadhaar number of account holders. Munde said the department will be holding consultations with RBI and NPCI on how to ensure a secure launch of the smart card programme.
“Once the cards are issued, they can be loaded with the amount due to students once applications are sanctioned. There will be no need to open or transfer money in a separate bank account,” he said.
Officials clarified that the facility will be offered for the students’ component (maintenance grant) of the scholarship. The college component will continue to be disbursed through the DBT portal. The plan is to launch the smart card system from the next academic year.
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