An inquiry ordered by the Punjab government on April 12, this year, has landed a former Congress MLA Raman Bhalla in a soup with the report exposing a bungling of Rs 1.55 crore. This bungling was done in the Post Matric Scheduled Caste (SC) Students Scholarship Scheme (PMSCSS) for the period 2013-14 and 2014-15.
The ex-MLA owns two institutions, Aman Bhalla Polytechnic College and Aman Bhalla Engineering College located at Kotli village of Pathankot district which are financially supported by the Central government under the PMSCSS. According to the scheme, for the SC students whose parents’ annual income was not more than Rs 2.50 lakh per annum, the Central government reimbursed the non-refundable compulsory fee and maintenance allowance to eligible SC students.
The inquiry report which was lying pending with the state government established that the Polytechnic College produced fake data of 789 SC students to claim fee reimbursement. The modus operandi of the institute was that 789 online forms claiming fee reimbursement were filled up by the staff members of the college in a fraudulent manner. The data of staff members submitted to the state government also carried the mobile phone numbers of the staff and not of the students. The inquiry established that as per record each staff member had claimed reimbursement of fees for more than one time by the tampering of required document. It was also established that the college had been accepting fee directly from the SC students as well and at the same time also claimed reimbursement on the behalf of the same student.
In 2013-14, Aman Bhalla Polytechnic College pocketed fee of 283 SC students amounting to Rs 75 lakh. In 2014-15, 285 fake fee claim led to an income of around Rs 79 lakh. The inquiry conducted in the Aman Bhalla Engineering College fee reimbursement bungling was yet to be finalised.
The ex-MLA, when contacted, trashed the inquiry report saying, “The Department of Welfare has gone mad. They were calculating the fresh admissions of 2013-14, and 2014-15 and not taking into account the renewal of students who had studied for previous one year or two years depending on the course chosen.”
Bhalla said, “The data of students sent to sanctioning authority which was Government Polytechnic College, Dinanagar had accepted the data as true before releasing the amount.” He alleged that the department was unnecessarily harassing him.
Jaswinder Singh Gill, Deputy Director, Welfare Department when contacted said, “During inquiry the Prinicpal of the Polytechnic College, owned by ex-MLA Raman Bhalla had submitted a written statement that the total admission of 2013-14, students numbering 643 out of which only 245 SC students and 45 BC students were taken into account. In the data pertaining to 2014-15, total admissions were 589, out of which 283 SC students and 153 BC students.”
The ex-MLA claimed that only fresh admissions calculated showed that the diploma in mechanical engineering course had filled 342 seats against total sanctioned seats of 240 during 2013-14. During 2014-15, 325 diploma in mechanical engineering course students had been admitted against sanctioned 240 seats.
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