Srinagar: The Ministry of Human Resource and Development in New Delhi has blocked funds given as grant or aid under two schemes – Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasa (SPQEM) and Infrastructure Development in Minority Institutes (IDMI) – to Jammu & Kashmir, citing non-utilisation of previous funds.
The schemes were launched in the year 2008-09 in all states of India shortly after the Sachar Committee submitted its report on the situation of minorities in India. The aim of the schemes was to provide formal education alongside the religious education given in minority institutions like madrasas.
A senior official from the J&K education department, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that in the financial year 2011-12, Kashmir province alone was given an amount of Rs 553 lakh under the two schemes for distribution among madrasas that had applied for grant-in-aid to improve the quality of education and to develop their infrastructure.
Of the total 237 madrasas operational in Kashmir, 114 had applied for SPQEM – a scheme for which madrasas that are at least three years old can apply. Funds provided under SPQEM are for “quality modern” education in such subjects as science, mathematics, language, and social studies, and are given as enhanced honorarium to teachers.
In Kashmir, 107 madrasas had applied for the IDMI scheme under which funds are given to augment infrastructure.
“Following the official procedure for verification, we found 78 madrasas eligible for SPQEM and 58 others eligible to receive grant under IDMI scheme. We forwarded the same to MHRD from where an amount of Rs 553 lakh was allocated for Kashmir province,” the education official said.
The official said that the chief education officers through whom the funds were distributed among eligible madrasas, utilised a sizable amount of about Rs 1 crore of the allocated Rs 553 lakh, but more than four-and-a-half crore rupees were unutilised.
“The reason behind non-utilisation of funds was either lethargic attitude by officials or that many of the madrasas who had applied for grant refused to receive it citing the situation here (in Kashmir). Many of the madrasas backed out because they were facing questions of why they were begging New Delhi for funds,” the official said.
The official said that the lapsed funds were retained by the state government for “unknown reasons” even though they were supposed to be transferred back to MHRD.
“The officials of MHRD have refused to entertain our new proposal of Rs 1.5 crore citing unspent funds of the previous installment. They have told us that even if the state government had spent those funds in other development works, then a Utilisation Certificate (UC) could have been issued and that would have cleared the hurdles in granting funds in the future as well,” the official said.
He said the government is still contemplating whether the unspent funds should be re-utilised or handed back to MHRD.
Former director of finance, J&K education department, Shadi Lal said that a committee was set up two years ago to make plans for utilisation of unspent funds. “I have no knowledge what happened to that committee, or the funds for that matter,” Lal said.
Financial advisor in the education department, Mahesh Kana, said he had no knowledge of the matter as it had been just two months since he joined this office. “I need to see the file of the case first,” Kana said.
Fayaz Ahmad, the education department’s nodal officer for MHRD schemes, said he had no knowledge of a committee being set up for utilisation of unspent funds.
In the Kashmir province, Shopian, Baramulla, Kupwara and Anantnag were the districts where zero amount of funds were utilised. Budgam district topped the list with about Rs 30 lakh utilised by madrasas. Interestingly, Baramulla district, where no amount was utilised, has the highest number of madrasas of all districts – 71.
Commissioner secretary of the education department didn’t answer repeated phone calls, nor a text message sent by this reporter.