Odisha: BJD Protests Centre’s SC/ST Scholarship Funding Pattern, Stages 12-Hr Relay Hunger Strike Before Governor’s House

**Bhubaneswar:** Protesting the modified pattern in SC/ST scholarship funding wherein the State:Centre share has become 80:20, BJD leaders staged a 12-hour long relay hunger strike in front of Governor’s House (Raj Bhavan) here today morning citing that financial burden has mounted on the State and Centre is acting like a roadblock in the progress of the SC/ST students.

The protest was held under the leadership of Finance Minister Sashi Bhushan Behera, party vice-president Pramila Mallick, and MLAs Lal Bihari Himrika and Padmanabh Behera.

At total 2 lakh SC and ST students study in 10th standard across schools in Odisha. These students are entitled for a scholarship sponsored by the Centre. The Centre has a share of 90 percent in the scholarship for the SC/ST students, while the State extends a share of 10 percent.

In 2016-17, the Centre provided Rs 215.80 crore while the State’s share was Rs 22.48 crore for the aforementioned scholarship. However, the scholarship modalities were modified in 2017-18 and the Centre’s share was limited to 20 percent, whereas the State is required to add 80 percent for the SC/ST scholarship.

Under this new system, the Odisha Government has to bear the 80 percent funding of upto Rs 238.28 crore for the scholarships in 2017-18, said Finance Minister, Sashi Bhusan Behera.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and apprised of the concerns of the State over the new guidelines and requested the Centre to reconsider the modifications.

Later, the BJD delegation presented a memorandum addressed to the President of India through the Governor of Odisha against the Central Government for the abrupt change in funding pattern under Post-Matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste students.

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