PATNA: The Bihar government on Saturday introduced an innovative scheme of providing scholarship to college students belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), EBC and backward classes through e Z-Pay card. Bihar is second state after Andhra Pradesh to introduce this scheme.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar handed over the cards to some of the beneficiaries at a function here. In the first phase, 2.50 lakh students are being provided this ATM card for which the government has made agreement with the SBI. The students were in a jubilant mood and they experimented with their ATM cards at a specially set up ATM unit at Samwad where the function was held.
The CM said through the scheme, the monthly scholarship will be deposited in the account of each beneficiary and the students would be able to draw the money from ATMs by using their cards. This will rescue them from unnecessary harassment and save their time running from one place to another.
“This is a post-matric scheme and later it will be extended to school students too,” Nitish announced. He said the stipend had been raised three times and may be increased further in future. The aim of the scholarship is that the students should continue with their higher education and should not drop out due to financial restrain.
The CM, however, said he did not have good experience with the banks who initially had not cooperated with opening of account for school girls who were being paid money for purchasing uniform and bicycle. He said he rejected the idea of giving stitched uniform and bicycle to them as it could lead to scams. That was why he decided to give cash to the students for the purpose.
He advised the students to utilize the money properly and continue with their education, but he did not discourage them from indulging in some fun and frolic though.
SC, ST, EBC and backward classes welfare department secretary Ravi Parmar said 2.50 lakh beneficiaries had been provided with e Z-Pay card in the first phase. In the second phase, Parmar said, students from Class VII would be included in the scheme and then about a million students belonging to the group would get this pre-paid card which has a 10-year validity. The beneficiaries need not open bank account.
He said presently the students were getting monthly stipend between Rs 300 and 700 depending on their class and stream; likewise students of Class XI and XII were getting Rs 300 while students of technical education get Rs 700 per month. This card could be used at any of 23,000 SBI ATMs, he added.
“We will also include the beneficiaries of Mukhya Mantri Chhatra Vriti Yojna under this scheme. The students of SC, ST, EBC and backward classes get Rs 10,000 on passing matric exam with first division. This time the incentive will also be paid through cards,” Parmar said.
Earlier, minister of SC, ST welfare Jitan Ram Manjhi and minister of EBC and backward classes welfare Hari Prasad Sah thanked the CM for introducing the scheme saying it will encourage the students from poor and backward sections of society.