Ranchi: Scams are no longer limited to banks and business tycoons in India. Government schemes in small towns too have the potential of attracting scammers it seems. A scam involving three Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have come to the fore, in Jharkhand’s Giridih district, 220 kilometres away from state capital Ranchi. These NGOs have withdrawn funds more than 5 crores from one of the most ambitious schemes of the Union Government of India—National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) without even providing proper training or placement being trained which comes under Skill India project of the mission. The NGOs even provided fake placement certificates, to claim that their programmes going well, year after year.
These are initial figures and it could eventually sum up to a higher amount. Giridih Municipal Corporation, is the nodal agency for the implementation of NULM scheme.
Under NULM, poor urban households were to be provided with short term training to equip them with some professional skills like beautician course, embroidery, computer software training and driving, so that the beneficiaries could certain jobs as skilled professionals or they could even set up a small business of their own. The certification has been done under– Skilled India.
Since 2013, three NGOs—Sant Ravidas, Nature Care and Gyan Jyoti, in Giridih, had been dutifully submitting documents, indicating that they were training 1200 persons on an annual basis. Most of the enrolled candidates were girls and were supposed to undergo a six-month training for the beautician course. However, in reality, the NGOs were neither training the girls in a proper way, nor were they providing the beneficiaries with the prescribed training kit.
The scam came to the fore, when girls met Executive Officer (EO) Vijaya Jadhav with the help of Rakesh Modi, vice president, Giridih Municipal Corporation. When Modi, presented the girls before the executive officer, then they narrated their plight. “We were being trained to become skilled beauticians under NULM. However, we have not been provided any training kit. During the training classes, all that we were provided were a pen and an exercise book, individually. On completion of the course, we were neither given certificates nor placed anywhere,” informed a trainee (name not revealed for security purpose) to Jadhav.
Interestingly, when Jadhav called an NGO official to know why they had not provided placement to the girls after completion of course, then the official claimed before everyone that they had provided placement to all trainees. He even named a girl, who was present in the meeting. She refuted the claim by stating that she had not got any placement.
Jadhav, an Indian Administration Service (IAS) officer was in for another shocker when some of the girls alleged being abused by Rakesh Kumar, city manager of Sant Ravidas NGO, for demanding certificates and placement. When the officer raided the offices of these three NGOs, she discovered that despite the NGOs having printed the certificates annually, had for some reasons refrained from handing them over to the trained girls.
“It is surprising that the NGOs have trained a large number of girls to become beauticians. However, one fails to understand the reason for training so many girls for the same course, without having conducted a proper survey to know where they will be placed?” stated Jadhav, while addressing the press.
The executive officer clearly maintained that NULM’s purpose couldn’t be fulfilled because of these three NGOs. She stated that despite having sending off repeated reminders; Sant Ravidas NGO’s city manager did not turn up.
Modi, has been raising the issue on several platforms since long. Speaking to eNewsroom, he said, “Municipal officials also involved in the scam, else with so many irregularities, no NGO will get funds year after year.”
According to sources, a tainted municipal officer had played an instrumental role in the functioning of Sant Ravidas NGO. “NULM is an ambitious project, there should be detailed inquiry into it to reach the root of the scam,” Modi demanded.
With scams being the flavour of the season, one needs to understand that while in other scams involving banks, the fake activities simply involved swindling of money, but in Skill India (NULM) scam, those guilty have robbed not just the government of the money but the poor urban girls of a career.