Bhubaneswar: As part of efforts to ensure all-round development of Scheduled Caste people, the Odisha Government has decided to construct 55 new hostels for SC students in the state.
Announcing this at a meeting of the Scheduled Castes Welfare Advisoty Board, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the proposed 55 hostels would come up in ten coastal districts and also in Sonepur out of own state plan fund. The hostels would be 100-beded each, he said.
Stating that 155 SC girls hostels have been sanctioned under Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana, Patnaik said out of these 135 hostels had been completed so far and the rest were likely to be completed in two months.
The state government had also decided to raise the post-matric scholarship Maintenance Allowance to Rs 1,000 per month for SC-ST boarders of Group 2, 3 and 4 categories.
In order to check high dropout rates and enhance attendance, the state government would provide uniform to all students of Class XI and XII studying in ST & SC Development Department schools, he said.
On legal assistance to SC/ST people, Patnaik said the state government had opened 390 Legal Aid Cells to provide free legal services to the SC/ST communities.
Altogether 593 Legal Retainers had been appointed in 298 Legal Aid Cells in the state, he said, adding steps had been taken to set up 3 special courts at Cuttack, Balasore and Bolangir for speedy trial of pending atrocity cases.
Though untouchability has been substantially eradicated, the practice continued in some form or the other due to lack of awareness among the scheduled castes about their rights and privileges granted to them under the Constitution and under the two Central Acts, he said.
As such, effective measures were being taken for creating awareness about the provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955 and SCs & STs (PoA) Act of 1989 and for providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims of atrocities, the Chief Minister said.
While monetary relief amounting to Rs 165.26 lakh had been released for payment to 572 SC atrocity victims, Rs 207.81 lakh had been released for payment of cash incentive to 421 inter-caste married couples during the current year, he said.