Bhadrak: About one and a half week after Orissa POST reported alleged bungling of stipends worth crores of rupees through forged caste certificates in some private engineering institutions in Bhadrak, the district administration has intensified its investigation.
It conducted a probe for the second time Wednesday six days after the first phase of the probe.
On instruction from Collector-in-charge Shyambhakt Mishra, two teams were formed for the investigation.
As the examinations were underway in these three institutions, investigators found it easy to glean data about the total number of students, number of ST/SC students and inmates in hostels. The teams also checked the number of students appearing for examinations.
The teams collected copies of student attendance during the examinations. One team comprising Assistant Collector (magistrate) Kashinath Mandal, District Welfare Officer Jayant Kumar Jena, Bhadrak block welfare officer Srilekha Nayak raided an engineering college on the outskirts of the town for the second time.
Another team comprising Tihidi block welfare officer Gyanendra Kumar Samal, Dhamnagar welfare officer Manmanth Kumar Nanda, and Bant block welfare officer Sauna Majhi raided an ITI and an engineering college.
The district welfare officer said the two teams after completing the probe will submit their final report to the Collector.
After POST reported the fund bungling through forged caste and other certificates November 26, the administration had fixed CCTV cameras at the welfare department on the 3rd floor of the Collectorate.
Mishra had then issued stern warnings to block welfare officers, stating that they should ensure no stipend money meant for ST/SC students is bungled.
The Collector also directed the BWOs to be more careful while considering applications for stipends recommended by private and government educational institutions.
A team of officials led by district welfare officer Jayant Kumar Jena December 6 raided a private engineering college on the outskirts of Bhadrak.
The team seized several documents of students who had applied for stipends and the attendance of students.
Sources said, 8313 post-matriculation students (SC) of 143 government and private educational institutions have been provided stipend of Rs 9.50 crore in 2018-19 academic year.
Besides, 822 students (ST) of 64 colleges in the district have received stipends to the tune of Rs 1.90 crore in the same academic year. It was reported that scores of students had furnished forged caste certificates while genuine students were deprived of entitlements.
Some teachers have grabbed the jobs with forged certificates by greasing the palms of corrupt officials at the education department, it was alleged.
In the absence of official verification, such illegal teachers go scot-free. The issue came to the fore after some youths sought information from the district education department through an RTI.
Reports said, within the last month, two teachers were found guilty of committing such forgery and were dismissed from service. Two cases were filed at the police stations.
Last year, the administration had arrested nine teachers after their documents were found forged.
Two months ago, the school and mass education department had directed the district administration to verify certificates of all teachers. But the department had not even verified certificates of one-third of teachers.