Bhadrak: Days after raids on various engineering and educational institutions regarding bungling of stipends in Bhadrak, three officials who were engaged through an outsourcing agency in the district welfare office, were suspended, Friday. Significantly, the district administration has recommended a probe by the Vigilance department in the wrongdoings, a report Saturday said.
The suspended staffers were identified as stipend coordinator Baharati Mohapatra, and data-entry operators Bikash Kumar Hota and Bhajan Bindhani. An engineering college was served show-cause notice in this regard.
It may be mentioned here that Orissa POST had first reported about alleged bungling of stipends to the tune of lakhs of rupees through forged caste certificates in some private engineering institutions. The district administration started an investigation December 6.
After the wrongdoings were revealed, the administration fixed CCTV cameras at the welfare department, housed on the 3rd floor of the Collectorate. Collector-in-charge Shyambhakt Mishra had issued stern warnings to all the block welfare officers, stating that they should ensure no stipend money meant for the ST/SC students is bungled.
A team of officials led by district welfare officer Jayant Kumar Jena had raided a private engineering college on the outskirts of Bhadrak town. The team had seized several documents related to a number of students having applied for stipend and received stipend and attendance of the students.
Official sources said 8,313 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 a stipend to the tune of over Rs 1.90 crore in the same academic year. It was reported that scores of students had furnished forged caste certificates while genuine students are deprived of their entitlements. Forged certificates have been produced by some teachers and they grabbed the jobs by greasing the palms of some 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 fore after some youths sought information about such illegality from the district education department through RTI.
Reports said within the last month, two teachers were found guilty of committing such forgery and were dismissed from service in the district. Two cases were filed at the police stations against the two teachers. Last year, the administration arrested nine teachers after their documents and credentials were found to be forged. Two months ago, the school and mass education department directed all the district administrations to verify certificates of all teachers. All the block education officers of Bhadrak were supposed to carry out the verification.
It was learnt that even certificates of 30 per cent teachers have not been verified till date while verification in case of some teachers were a gimmick.
As certificates of many were deliberately not put through strict scrutiny, the forged teachers got away with salaries and other benefits over years. In other, students of some closed and running education institutions had allegedly bungled stipends by producing forged SC/ST certificates.