Funds under 22.75 per cent scheme used for civil projects

For Manjunath Swamy (name changed), it is his dream to see his two children well educated. A group D employee with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), he has admitted his children in a private school. As he cannot afford to pay their fees, he applied for fee reimbursement under the BBMP’s 22.75 per cent scheme.

However, the BBMP has not reimbursed its share of the fees so far, as it has spent the money set aside for fees on civil works, leaving hundreds of parents distraught.

“When the school threatened to disallow my children from sitting for the annual examination, I took loans and paid Rs. 24,000 as tuition fees. This year again, I have applied for fee reimbursement. But the school is insisting on fees even though I have submitted photocopies of my application for fee reimbursement,” Mr. Swamy said.

Not only has the BBMP not reimbursed fees for the 2012–13 academic year, but the civic body has also indicated that it will not be able to meet the educational expenses for the current academic year.

The BBMP had announced the reimbursement plan for students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in aided schools under the 22.75 per cent scheme a few years ago. However, the initiative has been fraught with delays and unkept promises.

M. Venkatesh, Bangalore district convener of the Dalit Bahujan movement, said parents had been told that the fees could be reimbursed after the government approves the BBMP’s 2013–14 budget. “However, there is no clarity yet. Children are being made to stand outside the classrooms and notices are being sent to their homes every month.”

He lambasted BBMP officials and elected representatives for not making welfare schemes a priority. “If the BBMP cannot reimburse the fees in time, the officials can at least inform the schools. This way, the schools will not harass the parents over fee payment,” he suggested.

He alleged that by delaying the fee reimbursement, BBMP was discouraging the education of Dalit children.

Additional Commissioner (Welfare) Hemoji Naik conceded that the BBMP was not able to reimburse the fees for 2012–13, adding that the civic body may not be able to do so this academic year as well. “More than three times the amount allocated for the 22.75 per cent scheme was spent on civil works last year. We may not be able to take up any welfare schemes this fiscal as we have exceeded the limit already,” he said.

BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan told The Hindu that funds under 22.75 per cent scheme are being used entirely for housing. The BBMP had already spent Rs. 500 crore. “However, it is up to the council to decide on the usage of funds under the scheme. Secondly, we will have to ascertain if the applicants are eligible for the scheme, as only SC, ST families whose annual income is less than Rs. 1 lakh are eligible,” he said.

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