Pushing forward its agenda for backward castes and Dalits ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling BJP in Maharashtra on Tuesday announced a Rs 736-crore financial assistance for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Vimukt Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and Special Backward Class (SBC).
A senior minister said the decision is designed to blunt the impact of the 16 per cent reservation offered in Maharashtra to the dominant Maratha community, and the 10 per cent reservation by the Centre to economically weaker sections of the general category.
The Cabinet announced a Rs 250-crore assistance grant to the state-run Maharashtra State OBC Finance and Development Corporation Limited (MSOFDC) for pushing various welfare measures for OBCs in the state. Similarly, another Rs 300 crore was announced for the promotion of welfare schemes for VJNT and SBC through the Vasantrao Naik Vimukt Jati and the Nomadic Tribes Development Corporation Limited. Both packages will be released in instalments over three years.
Ram Shinde, Minister for VJNT, OBC and SBC Welfare, said that under MSOFDC, it has been decided to raise the ceiling for capital loans to eligible OBC candidates for self-employment and entrepreneurship from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
He added that it has also been decided that no interest will be charged if these loans are repaid in regular instalments. Four per cent interest will be levied on defaulted instalments. According to government estimates, this will cost Rs 36 crore.
Additionally, MSOFDC will offer an interest subvention scheme for individual loans up to Rs 10 lakh provided to eligible OBC candidates for self-employment and entrepreneurship. The upper limit for a group loan availed in the same segment will be Rs 50 lakh, said Shinde. “We have already received 42,665 loan applications. Out of this, 32,385 will be eligible to avail the subvention scheme,” he added. The government has budgeted Rs 100 crore towards this dole.
For the welfare of the Kunbi community, which has a sizeable presence in the Vidarbha and Konkan belts, the BJP government has set aside Rs 50 crore for the Shamrao Peje Kunbi Arthik Vikas Mahamandal. Another Rs 100 crore has been set aside for the distribution of modern equipment to village servants or Bara Balutedars, who also hail from the lower castes.
The VJNT and SBC categories will also be offered a similarly modelled interest subvention scheme. Shinde further announced that a “special assistance scheme” will be designed for the Pardhi, Vadar and Ramoshi communities.
The government has also extended a school fee scholarship scheme that is offered to VJNT and SBC communities to the OBC segment.