Uttar Pradesh’s Social Welfare department failed to complete the construction of a girls’ hostel for Scheduled Castes (SC) students at Siddharthnagar district, even 11 years after the sanctioning of the project, said the Comptroller Auditor General’s (CAG) report for the year 2018-19.
According to the CAG, the central government approved Rs. 6.97 crore for building seven girls’ hostels for high school and intermediate students under the Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana. While six hostels were completed and handed over to the Department between September 2010 and January 2013, the Siddharthnagar building remained incomplete even in 2019.
“The Siddharthnagar hostel was not completed even after… expending the entire sanctioned fund of Rs. 80.90 lakh. The Social Welfare Directorate submitted the revised estimate… of Rs. 1.17 crore to the state government in August 2018. No construction was going on due to lack of funds. However, the government did not release the additional cost required (Rs. 36.14 lakh) … despite the fact that as per the sanction cost overrun was to be borne by the State Government,” said the report.
In response, the Department said that the revised estimate was sent to the central government for approval in October 2018. It also assured that the fund was being provided for completion of Siddharthnagar hostel, and that efforts were being taken to make the hostel operational by the next academic session.
Dissatisfied with this, the CAG said, “The reply of the government does not explain why the sanction of posts and funds required for operationalisation of these hostels could not be synchronised. There has been inexplicable delay in making these hostels fully functional, thus rendering expenditure of Rs. 4.45 crore incurred on the construction of four girls’ hostels unfruitful.”
What is the Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana?
The Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana (BJRCY) is a centrally sponsored scheme for Scheduled Caste (SC) students that seeks to construct hostels through implementing agencies, especially for SC girl students from rural and remote areas, to contain and reduce the dropout rate in the community. In this case, the central government sanctioned the money with a break-up of Rs. 6.87 crore for construction and Rs. 0.10 crore for cot, table and chair at Rs. 2,500 per student. Officials hoped to provide for 100 boarders in Sitapur and 50 boarders each at Etah, Jyotiba Phule Nagar, Lalitpur, Maharajganj, Shravasti, Siddharthnagar districts.
As per the scheme, the buildings should be completed and functioning two years after the date of sanction – December 2008 – and the expenditure on maintenance is to be borne by the state government. According to the Union Department’s Standing Committee 2019-20 report, as many as 1,098 girls and 1336 boys in Uttar Pradesh benefitted under the BJRCY.
However, the recent CAG report shows that not only did the funds fall short for all seven buildings, Etah, Maharajganj and Sitapur hostels were not functional seven to nine years after they were handed over to the Department because of unavailability of staff and basic facilities such as furniture, electricity and approach roads.
Similarly, JP Nagar and Lalitpur hostels were made operational over four years after the department took control with adjustment of staff from other schools and hostels of the Department. Further, only 18 boarders were reported in JP Nagar and 36 boarders were living in Lalitpur as opposed to their intake capacity of 50 students during 2018-19. The remaining Shravasti hostel operates at its intake capacity of 50 boarders by utilising resources like staff, water and sanitation of Kasturba Gandhi Girls Residential School.
Highlighting the delay in completing the work, the CAG report talked about how the Directorate delayed 11 to 55 months in forwarding the proposals for sanctioning of required posts for four hostels to the Department after the taking over date. The government also belatedly forwarded the modified proposal to the Planning Department for sanction of posts as well as the budget.
In March 2020, the Directorate said that it requested the government for a sanction of required posts for all seven hostels. The same was being consulted with the Planning department. Thus, the sanction of manpower for these girls’ hostels was still awaited, said the report.
SC education in Uttar Pradesh
It is worth noting that Uttar Pradesh is among the four states accounting for nearly half of India’s SC population, as per the 2011 Census. It accounts for 20.5 percent of the national SC population with a literacy rate of around 60 percent as opposed to the 46.27 percent literacy rate in the 2001 Census.
In 2018, the Education Statistics at a Glance report showed that Uttar Pradesh recorded 76.39 Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) for SC girls in the senior secondary section that sharply declined to 20.7 GER for higher education section in 2015-16.
The Access (In)Equality Index (AEI) 2021 report reasoned that such drop out rate occurred more in SC, ST and OBC communities because students face greater hardships in accessing and continuing schooling. It also said that though enrolment in secondary education for students belonging to SC, ST, OBC groups is higher than the all-India average, actual attendance is lower.
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