A multi-crore scholarship scam involving various educational institutions has been unearthed in Punjab, a minister said here on Thursday.Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and Minority Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot disclosed that the scam came to light in the special audit of the 'Post Matric Scholarship Scheme' carried out by the department."Two departmental officers have been placed under suspension for scam in the academic welfare scheme, hobnobbing with the scamsters and gross negligence of duty," he told media here.Dharamsot said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had, on June 16, ordered the special audit of all the educational institutions of the state with regard to the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC or OBC from 2011-12 to 2016-17.While the special audit was still going on and would be completed by December 31, the scam had been detected in the audit done so far."Under the scheme for OBC, the Universal College, Dera Bassi claimed Rs 1.18 crore from the Welfare Department in the name of 311 students belonging to the OBC category which was thoroughly probed by the department resulting in the college returning the amount to the tune of Rs 1,17,62,000 to the department," the minister said.
He said that during the course of the probe, two officials were found guilty of collaborating in the scam and indulging in gross negligence.The Minister also revealed that during this specialised audit, Devraj Group of Colleges from Ferozepur also tried to defraud the department of Rs 4.4 crore by showing bogus students."This institution had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding pendency of Rs 4.40 crore with the Welfare Department. When the special audit of this institution was conducted, the claim of Rs 4.40 crore pertaining to this institution was found to be fraudulent."The Minister added that he has ordered registration of FIRs against both the institutions.He said that the Finance Department has conducted the audit of 249 institutions under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC leading to the audit parties claiming Rs 53.76 crore amount against these institutions."The audit parties has calculated this objectionable amount against various educational institutions who had wrongfully claimed scholarship under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs on the grounds of without acknowledgement to renewed students, without income certificate, unsigned applications by the students and in the name of drop out students," he stated.Dharamsot said that the department has also decided that the audit of the amount released under the Aashirwad Scheme (Shagun Scheme) during the previous five years (when the Akali Dal-BJP government was in power) would be conducted.