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Maharashtra Govt likely to scrap the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme for tribal students and bring back the contract system: Report

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray in Maharashtra is all set to overturn the Devendra Fadnavis government’s decision of implementing the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme for tribal students living in ashram schools and hospitals, a report published in the Times of India said.

In place of DBT, the Maharashtra government is likely to restore the contract system for the provisions of daily household items and stationery for the tribal students. Besides, instead of paying a food allowance to the students, canteens may be back in hostels.

A six-member committee under the leadership of former minister Padmakar Valvi is instituted by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to assess the DBT system. The committee is expected to file its submissions by the month-end.

An official privy to the development said that the government was “finding it difficult to continue with the DBT in a few cases because of technical snags”. The official also added that beneficiary-related issue like maintaining minimum balance in students’ bank accounts also pushed the government into moving towards scrapping the scheme.

Ministers of Tribal Affairs in MVA government KC Padvi said contractors won’t supply all the items if the system is done away with. He admitted that there are both advantages and disadvantages attached to the DBT scheme and the primary quarrel, in this case, is about removing canteens from the hostels. However, he added that the final decision will be taken after the committee submits its findings.

It is pertinent to note that Padvi, along with other legislators belonging to the tribal community, had in July 2018 sat on the Vidhan Bhavan staircase in Nagpur in a protest demanding to revoke the DBT system.

The move faced stiff resistance from the opposition in Maharashtra, with the opposition leader in the state legislative council Pravin Darekar questioning the intention of the MVA government behind scrapping the hassle-free DBT system. Darekar further added that he would raise the issue in the upcoming budget session starting on March 1.

Devendra Fadnavis-led government had brought in DBT system in 2018

The DBT system for tribal students was introduced by the Fadnavis government in 2018, in a bid to curb the rampant corrupt practices plaguing the contract system. To deal with the corruption, the Fadnavis government brought in the DBT system that allowed money transfer directly to tribal students’ accounts as food allowance and to buy household items like soap and toothpaste, and stationery like textbooks, notebooks, school uniforms.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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