A day after the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government restored the autonomy of the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI), the Maratha Kranti Morcha has asked the government to implement welfare schemes for the community. Besides seeking Rs 1,000 crore, it has also demanded setting up of SARTHI branches in other parts of the state.
“While we welcome the state government’s step to restore the autonomy of SARTHI, we expect the government to implement effective schemes for the upliftment of the Maratha community…,” said Vinod Patil, one of the coordinators of Morcha and a respondent in the reservation case in the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the state government restored the autonomy of SARTHI, which was stripped off after a slew of allegations against the institute in November last year. SARTHI was set up in 2017 for the upliftment of the Maratha community through various welfare schemes, primarily for the youth.
The demand for restoration of the autonomy was being raised repeatedly by the community. MP Sambhaji Raje said like Maratha reservation, SARTHI is equally important for the welfare of the community.
“I have been agitating for restoring the autonomy of the institute. I don’t know why there was so much delay. Now that it has happened, I appreciate the government move. This is the first step towards securing justice for the Maratha community,” Raje said.
Demanding a provision of Rs 1,000 crore for SARTHI, the MP added, “The state government has made a provision of Rs 130 crore for SARTHI. This is too meagre an amount…We demand the government to make at least Rs 1,000 crore available and continue funding other welfare schemes as per the requirement…”
The MP said the next important task before the government would be to appoint people from different walks of life with expertise in various fields. “Only having government officials as its board of directors will not help. There should be members from the community who have expertise in different fields. The members will be able to provide proper perspective and guidance on the steps required for upliftment of the community. These board members will be the voice of the community and will play an effective role in giving direction to SARTHI and its schemes,” he said. Top officials in Pune, including the divisional commissioner, will be among the directors of SARTHI.
Meanwhile, there is also a growing demand from the community to appoint Sambhaji Raje as the chairman of SARTHI. Maruti Bhapkar, one of coordinators, said, “Sambhiji Raje is highly respected not only in the Maratha community but across Maharasthra, and if he is given the job, SARTHI will definite emerge as a role model organisation.”
Sambhaji Raje said SARTHI is located in Pune and therefore there is a disconnect with youths living in far flung areas. “Why would someone from Parbhani or Wardha come all the way to SARTHI in Pune? Can’t there be another office or branch of SARTHI in other parts of the state?” he asked, urging the government to take steps in this direction.
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