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Stipend hike for SC/ST students

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By SUDEEP KUMAR GURU
  • Published 16.03.11
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Balangir, March 15: Acting upon a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the general secretary of Paschim Odisha Adivasi Mahasangh, Orissa High Court recently ordered the state government to pay enhanced stipend to students belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities. The order took into account price escalation and stipend paid to students of other categories.

A division bench comprising chief justice V Gopala Gowda and justice B.N. Mahapatra asked the commissioner-cum-secretary of the SC and ST welfare department to implement the court order from the current academic year.

The Paschim Odisha Adivasi Mahasangh had expressed concerns over the fact that students belonging to other backward classes (OBC) and socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) of BPL families were getting a much higher stipend than those of the SC/ST students.

General secretary of the Paschim Odisha Adivasi Mahasangh, Niranjan Bishi, who had filed the PIL, informed that students belonging to OBC/SEBC category were entitled to a stipend of Rs 750 per annum while there was no such provision for tribal and dalit students of BPL families.

“Similarly OBC/SEBC students from Class VI to VIII receive a stipend of Rs 900 and those of Classes IX and X get Rs 1,000 per annum. On the contrary, SC/ST students get a paltry Rs 150 for Classes VI to VIII and Rs 200 for Classes IX and X. This is sheer injustice,” Bishi said. The tribal leader further said the Mahasangh had urged the government to increase the stipend of SC/ST students studying in residential schools of the welfare department to Rs 530. “We had also urged the government to fix stipend of SC/ST students at Rs 1,500 for Class I to Class V, Rs 1,800 for Class VI to Class VIII and Rs 2,000 for Class IX and Class X.

“Our demand is genuine as poor students in Navodaya Vidyalaya get Rs 2,500, while those in central schools are paid Rs 3,500. I filed the PIL to draw the attention of the high court to all these discrepancies,” Bishi said. After hearing the counsels, the judges asked the state government to dispose the representation of the petitioner keeping in view the provision under Articles 15(3) and 41 of the Constitution.

“Taking into account price escalation and the stipend amount which is being paid to students of other category, the opposite parties should dispose the case as soon as possible,” the bench said.