NEW DELHI: The Congress has demanded a probe into the Centre’s Skill India programme, saying that it had turned into a big scam. “We want a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the Skill India scam. Who is responsible for it? We also want recovery of crores of rupees of public money lost due to the irregularities,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
The Skill India programme was announced by Prime M Modi on July 15, 2015 with a promise to train 40 crore people by 2022. Citing reports, he said there were several ghost beneficiaries in the plan being operated under the textile ministry’s ISDS scheme.
“Most partner agencies that are an active part of the BJP’s ecosystem are entitled to 75 per cent government subsidy on the sanctioned cost of Rs 10,000 per candidate. These middlemen and touts use details like Aadhaar numbers of unsuspecting people to project them as beneficiaries of Skill India. Smriti Irani is the textile minister and this specific scheme comes under her portfolio,” said Singhvi.
Citing the report of the government-appointed Sharda Prasad committee, which criticised the government last year for setting an unachievable target of skilling 40 crore youth, the Congress leader said the committee had further found that the Centre had been missing its targets over the previous two years as far as skilling the workforce was concerned.
“Analysing the government’s performance on skilling the country’s youth over a five-year period beginning 2011, the committee found that the only time the targets had been achieved was in 2013-14, during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government,” he said.
‘Hubs of profiteering’
The Congress said the idea behind creating the ministry of Skill Development was to divert funds from skilling of youth to create hubs of profiteering by agents of BJP ministers and MPs.