For three years, from 2016 to 2019, Pune-based Tribal Research and Training Institute (TRTI), an autonomous organisation under the state government, did not release any funds to coach students belonging to scheduled tribes (ST) category to take the state engineering services entrance exams, response obtained through a Right to Information (RTI) query revealed.
According to a notification of the state Tribal Development department, dated December 2, 2014, TRTI is mandated to fund Maharashtra Engineering Training Academy (META), Nashik, for training ST students taking state engineering services entrance exams under the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC).
The RTI query was filed by a Chandrapur-based Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirant Aakash Bambode. A copy of it has been accessed by The Indian Express.
To increase the number of applicants for MPSC exams from ST category and to ensure that seven per cent reservation for them is utilised effectively, the Tribal Development department had directed TRTI to training ST students and help them appear in competitive exams.
For exams of engineering services, the Maharashtra Engineering Training Academy, Nashik conducts training, whereas for judicial service exams, Bar Council Goa is currently tasked with conducting training programmes. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute (BARTI) implements training for aspirants of UPSC and MPSC exams.
As per the RTI response, no funds were disbursed for 2018-19 for judicial services exams. Despite disbursal of Rs 2 crore, which was Rs 47 lakh more than the amount released in 2018-19, the number of students trained across nine state universities for preparation of UPSC and MPSC exams in 2019-20 remained the same as the previous year, the RTI response stated.
Between 2014 and 2017, only 10 ST students were trained at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), despite a disbursal of a total Rs 20.10 lakh. Sixty-eight students were, however, trained at YASHADA, BARTI and Pune University in 2017-18 with the same amount, the RTI query also found. As the findings of the RTI query raises questions over the functioning of the institutes and their effectiveness in helping tribal students receive proper training, a group of advocates and social volunteers from Chandrapur, Buldhana, Washim and Gadchiroli districts have urged Maharashtra Tribal Affairs Minister KC Padvi to order an inquiry into the matter.
When contacted, TRTI Commissioner Pavneet Kaur said a detailed statement responding to the claims made by the RTI response would be released by the institute Monday. Kaur added the institute has also sent a proposal to increase the number of tribal students who could be trained under TRTI.
“The MPSC exams have not been conducted regularly since the past couple of years. Moreover, the government notification states that META can train only those engineering graduates who have applied for MPSC. We have been trying to get that GR corrected to ensure that all engineering students eligible for MPSC can apply to META for training,” Umesh Bharatiya of TRTI told The Indian Express.
Five students supported from TRTI had made it to the merit list of the MPSC exams, results for which were announced on June 19, Bharatiya said.
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