Eye on polls, CM doles out freebies for SC/STs

Schemes to be implemented under SCP, TSP

Eye on polls, CM doles out freebies for SC/STs
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday announced a bouquet of freebies and schemes to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes ahead of the election year in the state.

Free laptops to SC and ST students pursuing higher education, including professional courses, in private colleges; free bus passes to SC and ST students; increase in quantum of subsidy to SCs and STs to buy tractors, taxis and take up house construction; free foreign tour to agricultural labourers; distribution of seeds free of cost to SC and ST farmers are some of the new initiatives rolled out by the chief minister.

Besides, he directed the officials to chalk out a scheme to provide eggs to SC and ST girl children who have not enrolled at anganawadi centres in rural areas on the lines of the one in Telangana. These schemes will be implemented under the Special Component Plan (SCP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP).

Siddaramaiah made these announcements after chairing the state-level SC and ST Development Council meeting at the Vidhana Soudha. Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya, Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa and senior officers attended the meeting convened to review implementation of the SCP and the TSP.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Anjaneya said that SC and ST students are currently getting bus passes at concessional rate to travel in state-run road transport corporation buses, including the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses. The government and the Karnataka State SC and ST Development Corporation are together bearing 75% of the total cost of the bus passes, while the students are paying 25%. From now on, the bus pass will be provided free of cost, he added.

The subsidy amount for purchasing tractors and taxis has been increased to Rs 3 lakh each from Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, the incentive for construction of houses for pourakarmikas working under the contract system has been increased to Rs 4 lakh from Rs 2 lakh each. The Social Welfare and the Agriculture departments have been directed to jointly chalk out a plan to take about 1,000 SC and ST farmers on foreign tour this year, he added.

Siddaramaiah, in his 2016-17 budget, announced free laptops to SC/ST students in government engineering colleges, polytechnics and government degree colleges. Now, this facility has been extended to those studying in private colleges, Anjaneya said.

The government has released Rs 58,855 crore under the SCP and the TSP in the past four years and of this Rs 54,896 crore has been spent. In the current year, Rs 27,703 crore has been earmarked for this purpose.

Show-cause notices have been issued to the officials who have failed to spend money earmarked for various schemes under the SCP and the TSP. The officials have been warned of strict action if they fail to implement these schemes effectively, he added.

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