The State Government of Punjab has a Shagun Scheme for providing financial assistance to the girl’s marriage under the Department of Welfare of scheduled caste and backward class in the state. The Shagun scheme is also named as Aashirwad Scheme.
Under this scheme, the state government was providing financial assistance of Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000 for the marriage of daughter who belongs to the low-income family in the state. This scheme also assists in reducing the percentage of child marriage in the state. The financial assistance under this scheme was increased from Rs 21,000 to Rs 51,000 with effect from July 1.
Misuse of the Scheme
While the intent of the government may be good, several ineligible beneficiaries are taking undue advantage of the same, by furnishing fake marriage cards, affidavits and forged marriage certificates with the help of sarpanchs (heads of village) and area councillors since financial assistance has been increased.
It has been just a week since the revised scheme came into effect, but the district administration in Moga has already received at least 15 such claims. The number could be even more as they are in the process of verify other claims as well, reported Hindustan Times.
How Can One Avail This Scheme?
To avail of the scheme, a beneficiary needs to apply before getting married or 30 days after marriage. However, the district administration is receiving claims of marriages that took place even a year ago.
Moga district welfare officer Harpal Singh Gill said,
The beneficiaries are required to furnish documents such as marriage cards and certificates attested by local sarpanchs and councillors. But the elected representatives are attesting forged and counterfeit documents.
Adding further he quoted,
During the verification of claims, we found that ineligible beneficiaries had printed fake marriage cards and submitted these. In most cases, the marriages of women took place six months or a year back, but they have printed marriage cards with recent dates. Besides, they have also changed dates on marriage certificates.
Moga deputy commissioner Sandeep Hans said,
The officials concerned brought to my notice that some of the documents attested by the sarpanchs and councillors were forged during the verification. This is an apparent move to get benefit of the scheme by manipulating the facts.
Hans further said,
We have directed all the sarpanchs and councillors to attest documents only after verifying the facts. If more such cases come to the fore in future, a strict action will be taken against them.
The applicant must possess the below criteria to avail the benefits under this Shagun Scheme:
- Applicant should be a permanent citizen of Punjab state.
- Applicant family must belong to the below poverty line (BPL)
- Applicant must belong to the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and other economically weaker families
The latest increase will benefit 60,000 beneficiaries, putting an additional burden of Rs 180 crore on the state exchequer.
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