Rs 50K for SC/ST students pursuing degree courses

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has announced its decision to offer a one-time financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to economically disadvantaged students belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) pursuing general degree courses in any government institution within the state.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik shared this information during a meeting of the Tribes Advisory Council held in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

Patnaik emphasized the state government’s commitment to enhancing the socio-economic conditions and addressing the educational needs of tribal communities.

He stated, “Education, livelihood, and the protection of their rights have been our primary focus areas.” As part of these efforts, the government has established Special Development Councils (SDCs) to promote, protect, and preserve tribal culture, traditions, heritage, and identity by actively involving tribal communities.

The program has been expanded this year to include 172 blocks across 23 districts, benefiting over 8.4 million tribal individuals.

Recognizing the pivotal role of education in socio-economic upliftment, Chief Minister Patnaik highlighted Odisha’s leading position in providing residential facilities to tribal students. Currently, hostel facilities are available to more than 600,000 students from 420,000 households in 1,735 schools operated by the SC and ST Development department.

Over the past two decades, the number of high schools under the department has nearly doubled, rising from 215 to 422. Additionally, 62 higher secondary schools have been established, further strengthening the educational infrastructure. Odisha is recognized as a pioneering state in implementing the Forest Rights Act and has recently introduced the ‘Mo Jungle Jami Yojana,’ a scheme aimed at securing the right to hold and reside in forest land for eligible ST forest dwellers. This initiative seeks to ensure the recognition of community rights over forest land.

Furthermore, the Chief Minister announced the introduction of the state-funded ‘Mukhya Mantri Jeevika Mission,’ one of the largest tribal livelihood promotion initiatives. With a budget allocation of Rs 500 crore, the scheme will provide support to 150,000 tribal households in 121 tribal sub-plan (TSP) blocks of the state over a three-year period from 2022-23 to 2025-26.

The state government has also submitted a proposal to the central government for expanding the Odisha PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group) Empowerment & Livelihoods Improvement Programme. The proposal aims to implement the program in 1,138 newly designated PVTG villages for a period of seven years starting from 2024-25.