Riyaz ul Khaliq
Srinagar: The government of India (GoI) has refused to release funds for the development of minority institutions in Jammu and Kashmir, as the state government has not utilised the funds released seven years ago.
A high level meeting of top officials, including those from the Home and HRD ministries, is scheduled to be held in Srinagar today to review the financial assistance to minority institutions.
Official sources confirmed to Kashmir Reader that the GoI has asked the state government to return funds released for the up-liftment of J&K’s minorities seven years ago.
Sharing details, officials in the know said the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), GoI, had initiated two major programmes for minorities across India in 2007, which were framed as Scheme Providing Quality Education for Minorities (SPQEM) and Infrastructure Development for Minority Institutions (IDMI).
The schemes were meant for all those who form minorities in India, including Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists.
“The idea behind the initiatives was to support Madrassas, Maktabbas and Pathshaalas with a formal educational set-up while not disturbing their own syllabi,” the officials explained. “It was meant to secure the future of those who graduate from such institutions.”
Subsequently, the officials said, the GoI released an amount of around Rs 5 crore 53 lakh to the state of J&K through the Director School Education, Kashmir (DSEK).
“The MHRD sent us a list of 237 such minority institutions based in Kashmir for whom Rs 553 lakhs were released during financial year 2010-11,” they said. However the officials claimed ignorance as to who had prepared the list.
“The MHRD had itself given the break-up of the funds released which were subsequently transferred to the accounts of the chief education officers (CEOs) of the districts concerned,” the officials said.
“Only 58 Madrassas whose names figured in the list received the grant,” the officials said. “This amounted to around a crore of rupees being disbursed; the rest of the money, more than Rs 450 lakhs, still lies unutilised with the J&K state government treasury,” he said.
According to the officials, the GoI supported the salaries of three teachers in each institution it funded under the SPQEM. “Those with a Bachelor’s degree are paid Rs 6,000 per month, while teachers having PG or BEd degrees are paid Rs 12,000 a month.”
Besides, the officials said, the MHRD gave a one-time support of Rs 50,000 for the upgrading of libraries, followed by Rs 5,000 per annum.
For the introduction of computer education, the MHRD gave a one-time grant of a lakh, followed by a yearly support of Rs 5,000.
To instil the scientific temper among students, the MHRD gives Rs 15,000 annually for science and mathematics kits.
Similarly, the officials further revealed, under the IDMI, fund-recipient Madrassas were supposed to receive either Rs 50 lakh for infrastructure development or 75 percent of its total cost if it exceeded the sanctioned limit.
When asked as to why all funds had not been utilised, an education department official said that a number of such Madrassas refused to take the grant while many others that figured in the MHRD list “did not exist on ground”.
“And many such institutions did not qualify for the grants,” the officials added.
The officials informed Kashmir Reader that the MHRD convened a meeting on July 12 2016 that was chaired by the Secretary (School Education and Literacy), GoI, in New Delhi.
“The meeting was convened after 78 fresh applications from Kashmir-based Madrassas were received by the MHRD in 2016-17 for grant of Central aid under the two schemes,” they said.
However, the minutes of the meeting observed a number of discrepancies in the proposal of such fresh applications, the officials said.
“An amount of Rs 737,214 lakh is lying unutilised with the government of J&K out of the grant released in 2010-11,” read one of the observations made by the meeting. The unspent amount noted in the meeting included funds meant for whole of J&K state.
“The government of J&K has been requested to surrender the grant lying with the state, but the surrender is yet to be effected.”
“DSEK has dispatched many reminders to the government from time to time in this regard,” an official said about the release of unspent funds by the state government. “But there has been no concrete response.”
Such being the case, the GoI has not approved fresh proposals for funds from 78 Madrassas.
In this regard, the sources confirmed, a meeting of Commissioner Secretary Revenue (J&K), Secretary School Education (J&K), Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Director School Education Kashmir/Jammu, all deputy commissioners of J&K, director colleges and financial advisor will be held in Srinagar by two top officials from New Delhi.