Lucknow: Acute shortage of funds has dashed the hopes of five lakh students, who were banking on the Centre and the State government to assist them in their higher education. Owing to the financial crunch, the amount to be distributed as scholarship and fee reimbursement to five lakh students has not been cleared by either the Union or the state government.

Making the situation even worse is the fact that while the funds for last year have not been cleared, preparations for the new academic session have been started. The increasing number of students enrolled in medical, technical and arts streams are likely to create technical hurdles in the project.

For the record, students hailing from financially weak background are provided scholarships and fee reimbursement for higher education (above Class X) in India. Dalit students having a family income less than Rs 2 lakh per annum and general category students with less than Rs 1 lakh annual family income are eligible for the project. While the state government is expected to clear the funds for General Category students, the financial responsibility for SC, Minority and OBC students is on the Union government.

The government had approved a budget of Rs 193 crore for the General category students which had increased to Rs 513 crore in the last fiscal due to the huge fee reimbursement. The government was unable to bear the burden leaving the students in deep waters.

Similarly, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were paid Rs 35 lakh less than the required amount. The condition of Minorities is no better as the Directorate of Minorities Welfare is in need of Rs 100 crore for the purpose.

The worst sufferers are the students from Other Backward Classes. They received Rs 250 crore less than the amount required to meet the purpose. The state government is now facing technical hurdles on how to pay the pending 2010-11 amount in the present financial year.

Mishri Lal Paswan, Director, Department of Social Welfare informed that permission is being sought from the Finance Department to pay the pending amount in the present budget. However, sources have doubt over getting the nod in this context from the concerned authorities.

Till now, the amount was transferred directly in the bank account of concerned educational institute. However, from the new academic session the amount would be transferred in the bank account of students.