Bhubaneswara, 02.08.13 – It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this meeting of the Scheduled Castes Welfare Advisory Board. Odisha has as many as 93 Scheduled Caste communities spread through out the State. As you are all aware, our Government is committed to bringing about all-round development of the 72 Lakh Scheduled Castes people of the State who constitute about 17.13 % of the total population of Odisha.
Adequate measures have been taken for their all-round development and to provide them protection from atrocities through two Central Acts widely known as Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955 and the SCs & STs (Prevention of Atrocity) Act of 1989 that are currently in force.
In order to bring the SC households to the mainstream, Government is committed to safeguard their rights and entitlements through strict enforcement of these Central Acts. These Acts seek to remove untouchability and protect the SCs and STs against atrocities, injustice and exploitation.
Although, untouchability has been substantially eradicated, yet the practice continues to linger in some form or the other due to lack of awareness among the Scheduled Castes about their rights and privileges granted to them under the Constitution and under the two Central Acts.
As such, effective measures are being taken by the State Government for creating awareness about the provisions of the PCR Act of 1955 and the SCs & STs (PoA) Act of 1989 and for providing relief and rehabilitation to the victims of atrocities. With that end in view, this Scheduled Castes Welfare Advisory Board meeting has been convened and I am confident that today’s meeting will contribute in a positive direction towards protecting the interests of the Scheduled Castes of the State.
Our Government has opened 390 Legal Aid Cells in the State to provide free legal services to the SC/ST communities. As many as 593 Legal Retainers have been appointed in 298 Legal Aid Cells in the State. Besides, steps have also been taken to establish 3 special Courts at Cuttack, Balasore and Bolangir for speedy trial of pending atrocity cases.
Monetary Relief to the tune of Rs.165.26 Lakhs has been released so far for payment to 572 SC atrocity victims and Rs. 207.81 Lakhs has been released for payment of cash incentive to 421 inter-caste married couples during the current year.
Diet Expenses have been enhanced from Rs. 20 to Rs.100 & Daily Maintenance Expenses from Rs.50 to Rs.200 for payment to the witnesses and victims respectively to facilitate adducing of evidence in the trial courts and also at the time of investigation of cases.
155 numbers of SC girls hostels have been sanctioned under Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana, out of which 135 hostels have been completed so far and the balance 19 SC girls hostels are likely to be completed within two months. The State Government has also decided to construct 55 more 100 seated hostels in 10 coastal Districts and in Sonepur out of our own State Plan Fund.
Where all SC boys & girls are provided with school uniforms up to Class-8 under the Sarva Sikshya Abhijan, uniforms have also been provided to all SC & ST boys and girls studying in class 9 & 10 of ST & SC Development Department run schools. Also, it has been decided to give uniforms to all students of Class 11 and 12 studying in ST & SC Development Department schools.
The State Government has also decided to enhance the post-matric scholarship Maintenance Allowance to one thousand rupees per month for SC-ST boarders of Group 2, 3 and 4 categories.
Thrust has been given for the skill up-gradation of Scheduled Caste youth, and last year 11,000 SC boys & girls have been imparted training. This effort will be intensified in coming years.
I hope, all the members of this meeting would deliberate and offer their considered views and valuable suggestions for the betterment of the Scheduled Caste communities.
N.B. – The meeting was chaired by C.M. shri Naveen Patnaik. SC & ST Depv. Minister shri Lal Behari Himirika, Member M.P.s and M.L.As., other members, Chief Secretary, Development Commissioner, D.G. of Police and other senior officials were present.