Students risk losing out on scholarships

In what is being seen as a bid to keep their voters happy to ensure smooth sailing in future elections, a few Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) corporators are deploying UID (Aadhaar) card registration units in their respective constituencies. This however is directly hampering the ambitious pilot project of Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) through Aadhaar in Pune district, which kicks off from March 1, to benefit students. So far, out of 76,000 beneficiaries of various academic scholarships, only around 20,000 students will be eligible for benefits, as they have registered for UID cards. 

Up against the wall: Students agitate at the District Election Office to demand that the February 5 Aadhaar card registering deadline be extended, so they can avail scholarships through the Direct Cash Transfer scheme

The district election office has issued several reminders to the PMC commissioner to have the machines installed at the nine remaining colleges in the city, but to no effect. The civic body has been grasping at straws in efforts to ensure that the deadline is met, but the corporators are yet to have the machines returned, and one even said he intended to get hold of one more machine to cover a larger area.

Waiting game: According to Mangesh Joshi, PMC deputy commissioner, UID machine has been installed at Wadia College 

A UID centre in Agripada. File Pic

While the corporators play truant with the machines, around 56,000 students entitled to scholarships could stand to lose. Mangesh Joshi, PMC deputy commissioner admitted that some corporators are conducting UID card registration drives in their respective constituencies and as a result, the civic body is unable to supply UID kits to colleges.

“We have directed all those corporators, as well as ward officers, to return the UID machines to PMC for two weeks so that they can be installed in colleges and other institutes to complete the task of registering DCT beneficiaries,” Joshi said. Interestingly, PMC has already sent a list of the nine colleges to the district election office, where according to civic body officials, some machines have been installed. Joshi added that it will take another few days to cover all nine colleges.  “In the last week, we have installed machines in Fergusson College and Wadia College. The remaining colleges will also get covered soon,” Joshi said.

Though Joshi claims the corporators have been informed to return the UID machines, MiD DAY learned that some of these corporator are running registration drives, which will continue till February 13. “I am running Aadhaar registration drive in Shivajinagar area from the past week and will be keeping the machine with me till February 13,” said Balasaheb Bodke, corporator of ward number 24. 

Bodke added that he intends to get an additional machine to cover a wider area. “I am planning to take another machine so that I can cover adjacent areas also. I took this machine through the ward officer and till now, PMC has not asked me to return it,” Bodke said. The district election office had earlier fixed the deadline of February 5 to complete the UID registration procedure of all DCT beneficiaries. As a result, unregistered students are concerned as the last day for registering is today. 

On the other hand, while replying to students’ agitation for not having UID registration facility at the college level, District Deputy Election Officer Apporva Wankhede blamed PMC for the lapse. “It is the responsibility of the PMC to cover city area. I have even reminded PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak about it,” Wankhede said. In the first phase as a pilot project, the central government has selected 51 districts in the country including Pune to start DCT through Aadhaar from March 1. Aadhaar cards are expected to be allotted to beneficiaries of 13 various government schemes, including students’ scholarships by the end of this month.

“Our college informed us through a circular on January 23 to avail Aadhaar cards as encashment of scholarships can only be done through DCT. But till date, the college has not arranged the facility and we are now being told that it is our responsibility to do the needful,” said Sushant Munde, who is pursuing first year engineering from a college located in Narhe Ambegaon area. Sushant and his friend Arun Dalvi visited district deputy election officer Apporva Wankhede with a request to provide UID registration facility in their college.  

Easing the burden
The government student scholarship scheme include 100 per cent fee waiver to Scheduled Caste (SC) students and 50 per cent fee waiver to Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) along with minority category students. 

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