No central funding for tribal students for last 3 years; ministry incurs wrath of parliamentary panel

No central funding for tribal students for last 3 years; ministry incurs wrath of parliamentary panel

The Centre has not released any funds to several States, including Karnataka, for grant of pre-metric scholarships to scheduled tribe (ST) students since 2014-15.

A parliamentary standing committee has taken serious note of this lapse and sought an "explanation" from the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.

The report of the committee, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party's Lok Sabha member from Chhattisgarh, Rajesh Bais, was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The pre-metric scholarship scheme for tribal students studying in classes IX and X has been in existence since July 1, 2012. The Tribal Affairs Ministry provides grants to the States and Union Territory (UT) Administration for the scheme.

"The committee is surprised to note that for the years 2014-15 to 2017-18 (till November 22, 2017), no funds have been released to the States of Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal under the scheme," the parliamentary panel said in its report.

Similarly, funds have not been released to the states of Karnataka, Meghalaya and UT of Daman and Diu during the years 2014-15 to 2016-17.

"Even the grants for north-eastern states, where the majority of the tribal population resides, have not been released for two consecutive years," the parliamentary committee noted.

Ministry's apathy

The panel said in its report that it was shocking to find out that the Ministry neither made any effort to ensure that the funds are "invariably released" to these States and UTs nor tried to "ascertain or assess" the extent to which the tribal students in these States and UTs have been affected by non-disbursal of the grants from the Central Government.

"It shows the total lack of determination on the part of the Ministry to guarantee that the future of these children is not put into the gloom. The Ministry owes an explanation to this committee," the committee said in its report.

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