HIMAYAT Scheme Scam: From Monitoring Agency to Implementing agencies, everyone is involved
Bisma Nazir reports that the placement-linked training program has turned out to be a telling example of how funds routed to the states and UTs for welfare work of youth are looted, and is a grim reminder that even monitoring agencies like NABCONS can deceive.
In 2011, The Union Ministry of Rural Development launched the ‘Himayat’ Mission. This subsequently functioned as a separate vertical under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana. The Himayat Mission, costing Rs 1601.49 crore, was implemented through Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihood Mission (JKSRLM). Its budget was later revised to Rs 1781.66 crore. The purpose of the mission was to impart computer-oriented skill training, soft and English communication skills as well as technical skill training to youth between the age group of 15-35 years, in both rural and urban areas, and the subsequent placements of these youth. The Himayat Mission promised to generate sustainable livelihood opportunities through self-employment for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir through holistic entrepreneurship development programs.
In 2020, the Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) pointed out several deficiencies in the implementation of the Himayat Mission. The scheme was in the news for showing very poor performance. According to the CAG report, between 2016 and 2019, only 4,494 aspirants were given skill training against a target of 53,547 candidates. At that time, nobody knew the reason for the poor performance of this scheme. It was not known that officers in the monitoring agencies, implementing agencies and executing agencies were making personal fortunes from the funds allotted by the government for the Himayat Mission. Subsequent investigation has revealed that many officers of these agencies were directly involved in the scam and the loot of the funds meant for the scheme.
VERIFICATION BY ANTI-CORRUPTION BUREAU
Verification was conducted by Anti Corruption Bureau into the allegations of fraudulent withdrawal of government funds by various Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs). The report by Anti Corruption Bureau said that the fraudulent withdrawal of funds seemed to have been done as part of the criminal conspiracy by the officers of the monitoring agencies like NABCONS as well as the employees of executing agencies namely Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihood Mission (JKSRLM), etc. NABARD Consultancy Services (NABCONS) is a wholly owned subsidiary promoted by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). It is engaged in providing consultancy in all spheres of agriculture, rural development and allied areas. DATAPRO Computers Pvt. Ltd., Visakhapatnam, is one of the Project Implementing Agencies (PIA) for the Himayat Mission. The verification by Anti Corruption Bureau revealed that DATAPRO Computers Pvt. Ltd uploaded fake and forged documents as proof of placement of the candidates. Despite the use of fake and forged documents, DATAPRO Computers Pvt. Ltd fraudulently received the second installment of funds to the tune of Rs. 6.85 crore from J&K State Rural Livelihood Mission. The verification by Anti Corruption Bureau further revealed that J&K State Rural Livelihood Mission released funds in crores of rupees in favour of other Project Implementing Agencies (PIA) operating in the union territory in complete violation of the rules and norms laid down in the Mission. In this way, funds that were supposed to be used to provide employment skills to rural and urban youth in the Union Territory were siphoned off by the officers associated with the scheme to build their personal riches.
On September 3, 2021, FIR Number 08/2021 was registered at P/S Anti-Corruption Bureau Central. After obtaining the search warrant from the Court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Court, Jammu, searches were carried out at the following locations.
1. Head Office of DATA PRO (one of the Project Implementing Agencies), situated at Visakhapatnam
2. Head Office of NABCONS Consultancy in New Delhi
3. At the residence of Mr Kapil Sharma, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
4. Himayat Mission Management Unit (HMMU), JKSRLM, Jammu
5. Office of DATA PRO at Jammu
6. Office of NABCONS at Jammu
7. Four locations at Srinagar covering the offices of DATA PRO, NABCONS, HMMU (JKSRLM)
8. Residential premises of Mr Adil Tenki, State Project Manager, JKSRLM at Srinagar
The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) seized incriminating documents and electronic gadgets during these raids. Further investigation in the case is going on by ACB. All the agencies associated with the Himayat Mission are being probed regarding their operations.
BANNED PROJECT IMPLEMENTING AGENCIES BEGAN OPERATIONS AGAIN BY VIOLATING NORMS
In January 2022, Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta in a meeting clearly directed the department that it must not engage those project implementing agencies (PIAs) for training youth that have failed to adhere to the government-specified norms and regulations. The CS stated that these include the PIAs that have not filed reports with the government, or have not maintained proper accounts, or don’t have their own websites, and have failed to monitor/conduct regular inspections. The CS said that only those PIAs should be engaged for the training/placement of the identified youth which have the required capacity to deliver on the given mandate, which have neither been blacklisted by Government of India nor are involved in any case being probed by the Anti Corruption Bureau. Strangely, Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihood Mission (JKSRLM) did not follow the directives of the Chief Secretary. Notwithstanding what was specified, DATA PRO Computers Pvt Ltd, Visakhapatnam has resumed its training centers in Kashmir. According to the probe by the Anti Corruption Bureau, DATA PRO Computers Pvt Ltd had uploaded fake and forged documents as proof of placement of the candidates. When questioned in this regard, Muhammad Ashraf, Placement Officer for DATA PRO Computers Pvt Ltd said that the company had been allowed by the government to resume its non-residence program.
NOBODY KNOWS WHO STOLE THE MONEY
Crores Siphoned Off From Himayat Mission, All Officers Pass The Buck
Deputy Secretary Himayat Mission Mohammed Farooq Khan
I am not aware of this as I joined a few days back only.
Adil Ashraf Tanki, State Project Manager (Skill Training and Learning Management), Himayat Mission
I am not the authorized person who can give you the details regarding this matter.
(When asked by the Kashmir Central correspondent that you are the state project manager and Anti Corruption Bureau has searched at your place)
I cannot respond. I am at the airport right now, travelling to Jammu.
State Project Manager (PIA Coordination and Development) Faisal Nazir
I don’t know anything. I have joined recently.
Project Head RK Mohanty of DATA PRO Computers Pvt Ltd
We provide training to Himayat candidates. We have restarted training at Anantnag and Baramulla centres. Our company is not part of any scam. This is all wrong information. The case is still under process and nothing has been finalized yet. If we have done any mistake, they have to prove it first that we are the culprits. Then everything will be shut. Otherwise these are all allegations. (When asked about how they have resumed training despite adverse reports with the state against them and who permitted them) We were not stopped from working ever. Work for the reported project had been suspended, but the other regular project work is going on.
* Deepika K Sharma, Chief Operating Officer JKSRLM and Sajad Choudary, State Project Manager (Finance and Proposal Examination) did not answer repeated calls. They did not respond to the questionnaire posted to them on WhatsApp.