Student Credit Card scheme losing appeal in West Bengal?

Kolkata, July 6 Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project, the West Bengal Student Credit Card (WBSCC) scheme, seems to be losing appeal among the students and their parents who have shown reluctance in attending a programme where Banerjee herself is scheduled to distribute such cards.

The state education department will hold a camp in Kolkata on Thursday, where the Chief Minister will handover the cards to the students.

However, with less than 24 hours left for the programme, the response from the students and their guardians has been weak.

Sources in the education department said that although 18,000 recipients were slotted for attending the programme on Thursday, till Wednesday afternoon, only 6,000 have applied for attendance, which is just one-third of the targeted slot.

The district-level officials of the department are now personally calling up the prospective recipients and asking them to be present at the programme on Thursday.

A senior official in the education department told IANS on condition of anonymity that the reluctance has been probably caused by large-scale rejection of loan applications under the WBSCC scheme.

“After the scheme was launched following the Assembly elections last year, around 1.25 lakh loan applications have been received. However, till date, only around 18,000 such loan applications, which is just 14 per cent of the total applications, have been sanctioned.

“For example, an engineering student who is currently in his third semester applied for a bank loan under the scheme when he was in the first semester last year, but his application is yet to get sanctioned,” he said.

In almost all the meetings of the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC), the representatives of the state government had been insisting on larger participation of the banks in the WBSCC scheme.

The state government had assured the bankers that since the loan scheme will contain a state government guarantee, there is no possibility of the loans turning into bad loans or non-performing assets (NPA). However, all these efforts have failed and the banks have shown reluctance in participation.

Former secretary of the State Bank of India Staff Association, Ashoke Mukherjee, told IANS that sheer state government guarantee is not an assurance for sanction of loans.

“There have been instances of loans carrying state government guarantee becoming NPAs. Secondly, if the loan amount exceeds a certain limit, there is a requirement of collateral security irrespective of the state government guarantee. At times loan applications are rejected because of lack of supporting documents. There can be many reasons for rejection of bank loans,” he said.

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