Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New fees reimbursement rules upset Dalit outfits
PUNE: The Aarakshan Hakka Sanrakshan Samiti (committee for protection of reservation rights') is up in arms over the State cabinet's move to modify the reimbursement for professional course fees scheme for socially backward and economically weaker section students from 2012-13.
The samiti is a collective of Dalit Ambedkar movement, Left and socialist organisations. Its convenor Sanjay Dabadhe told TOI on Monday, "The modifications are unfair and unjust. The government always finds it convenient to curtail the constitutionally mandated expenditure for the socially and economically weaker sections under the garb of a financial crunch."
On Monday, the samiti met at Ambedkar cultural hall near Pune railway station to chalk out an action plan of protests and demonstrations against the decision.
According to the modifications cleared by the cabinet on June 13, an income ceiling of Rs 2 lakh per annum has been introduced for the beneficiaries from the scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribe (ST), VJNT (denotified tribes), other backward class (OBC) and special backward class (SBC) students.
Earlier, there was no such ceiling for the SC/ST students while the same for the VJNT, OBC and SBC students was Rs 1 lakh per annum.
While the benefit of 100% reimbursement of fees will be extended to the SC/ST students, the government has now prescribed a fixed amount of reimbursement to the VJNT, OBC and SBC students for various professional courses.
These students would earlier get 50% reimbursement of their tuition fees but now, they will get a fixed amount, which need not necessarily work out to 50%.
The new scheme restricts the benefit to only two children from an eligible family as against no such restriction earlier. Moreover, if a family has two sons then the benefit will be restricted to one but, if a family has a son and a daughter then the benefit will be extended to both,and in case of a family having two girls, the benefit will be given to both.
Dabadhe and other members met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday, and pointed out the widespread resentment in the community.
"He justified the decision on the grounds that the government does not have sufficient funds to continue with the scheme in its present form and that has safeguarded the interest of students below Rs 2 lakh annual income. However, the CM's stance is highly objectionable," said Dabadhe.
He said, "The Constitution mandates a special component plan by each state government for the SC/ST communities and a sub-plan for the tribal communities. An expenditure directly proportionate to the percentage of population of these communities in the state has been provided under these plans."
"However, successive governments in the state have consistently resorted to under-provisioning of financial outlay for these plans and under-utilisation of money. There is no political will and the state administration is apathetic to these issues," he said.
Dabadhe said, "The CM has cited situations like drought in the state but, the government can seek funds from the central government to address drought instead of curtailing expenses mandated for the socially and economically weaker sections."
The tweaks
* Income ceiling of Rs 2 lakh per annum introduced for SC/ST, VJNT, OBC and SBC students
* No such income ceiling existed earlier for SC/ST students
* Income ceiling for VJNT, OBC and SBC was Rs 1 lakh per annum prior to modification
* 100% reimbursement of fees for SC/ST students
* Fixed amount of reimbursement for VJNT, OBC, SBC students as against 50% of course fees earlier
* Reimbursement benefit only for two children per eligible family
* Benefit restricted to only one son in case of a family having two sons
* Family with one son and one daughter to get reimbursement for both
* Family with two daughters to get benefit for both.

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