State Cabinet goes back to offline payments of scholarships after IT department fails
After IT dept fails to compile data of eligible students and institutes, Cabinet takes easy way out to offline payment
The state Cabinet's latest move is as good as endorsing failure — after its IT department was unable to facilitate online payment of scholarship/freeship, instead of ensuring that it's fixed, the government simply went back to the earlier method of offline payment, for dues that are pending since 2011.
The online payment system had been adopted to stop leakages — several scams involving educational institutes eligible for getting grants, based on their student intake, were reported in the past. However, after the state IT department wasn't able to compile comprehensive data of eligible students and institutes, the Cabinet embraced the offline system yesterday. Both state and central governments grant various scholarships, which the state's machinery disburses. These are shared by educational institutes (tuition and examination fees) and students (lodging/boarding allowance).
A statement released by the government said that of all pending dues, 60 per cent payments would be done offline. As far as the current year's scholarship was concerned, 60 per cent of the first academic session would also be paid offline.
It clarified that institutes that were indicted in scams by investigating agencies would not be paid. Also, eligible students would get the seven-year dues only after they and their institutes furnished indemnity bonds. The statement added that government's official portal (MahaDBT.gov.in) was still being constructed, and hence, online payments would be delayed. “The departments — social justice, tribal welfare, school education and minority welfare — have been excluded from the MahaDBT system. The IT department has been asked to rectify all complaints and get the system working without any further hitch in one month's time,” said the CM's office.
Complaints against IT department were on the rise - not only did it fail eight departments that distribute scholarships to 30-35 lakh students, but it also created hurdles in several other programmes that need data and online platforms to execute. The farm loan waiver scheme is one ambitious project of the Devendra Fadnavis government that has gone kaput, primarily because of unprofessionalism within the IT department. The failure claimed its first major victim early this week, when Fadnavis sent principal secretary (IT) V K Gautam on forced leave. Senior bureaucrat S V R Srinivas has replaced him.
Sources said the department was able to compile data of only 9 lakh of the total 30-35 lakh students. It was forced to enrol students again because the company that was contracted earlier had deposited corrupt data with the government for not being paid its full charges. Recently, a meeting of all affected departments was held in which IT officials were taken to task — Gautam's working style and overall failure of his team came under heavy attack. Sources said IT officials, instead of responding to queries, left the meeting.
Approximate number of students getting scholarships
Number of students' data the IT dept managed to compile
Percentage of payments that would be done offline
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