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Immediately sanction funds for ashramshalas

Preeti Sharma Menon has forwarded letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to release funds for 322 ashramshalas across the state.

In our Thursday April 20th edition of Afternoon Voice we had published a story mentioning about the state government’s reluctance to release funds for the functioning of ashramshalas belonging to Scheduled castes. Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma Menon has already raised this issue and questioned the government’s failure to grant funds for backward castes. She also had pointed out that the government which has funds for constructing statues, sanctioning funds for large scale infrastructure projects is washing its hands off this issue citing shortage of funds.

The conditions of Prasad Arvind Kulkarni who had gone on an indefinite hunger strike at Azad Maidan is in critical condition. He has been protesting along with 300 members of the ‘Kendriya Anusuchit Jaati Nivaasi Ashramshala Shikshak v Shikshak-itar Karamchari Sangh’ since 14th April but their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

According to Preeti, 322 ashramshalas meant for students of Scheduled Castes have been denied funds since 15 years. She said, “These funds are lying unutilised year after year but are not spent on the needy beneficiaries. Minister of Social Justice Rajkumar Badole can sanction the measly 60 crore from his thousands of crores of unutilised budget but refuses to do so.”

Shailesh Kamble member of ‘Kendriya Anusuchit Jaati Nivaasi Ashramshala Shikshak and Shikshak-itar Karamchari Sangh said, “We are trying to seek an appointment with Chief Minister and any other ministers of the government. We are ready for a discussion with the government. We will continue with the protest even though Prasad’s Kulkarni’s condition is critical. The government should give an appointment for us to discuss this issue and should give it in writing.”

“The government must provide 100 per cent funding to central ashramshalas. Those employees who are employed with the ashramshalas for a period of 16 years should absorbed by the firm and provided benefits,” he added.

Preeti also has forwarded a letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and urged him to release funds for 322 ashramshalas meant for Scheduled Caste students.

In the letter Preeti mentioned, “I request you to please meet a delegation of teachers and non-teaching staff of 322 Ashramshalas meant for Scheduled Caste students, which were initiated nearly 15 years ago by the Maharashtra statement government.”

In 2003 ashramshalas were started across Maharashtra for children belonging to scheduled castes. These were to be funded by the Central Government. In 2010 it was decided that these will be funded by the Maharashtra State Government. In 2012 there was an order by the then Chief Minister (Attached) authorizing the funds but it was not actioned. Today there are 322 such Ashramshalas in Mumbai with around 4000 staff and 50000 students, running with aid from local NGOs. They have been subjected to numerous inspections and their veracity has been proved repeatedly.

A delegation met Minister for Social Justice Rajkumar Badole, and though it is well within his purview, he claimed helplesslness saying he has written to the Chief Secretary (Attached) to include this matter in the Cabinet but has received no response.

“In FY14-15 the outlay for Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP), of which ‘Social and Community Services’ is a part was 6044.26 Cr of which only 3583.29 Cr was spent. In FY 15-16 only 2017.32 Cr of the 6490 Cr budget was spent. The total spend on these Ashramshalas will not be more than 60 crores annually,” said Preeti.

“It is such a shame that the Maharashtra State Government has to be reminded to fulfill its obligations to the poorest of poor – the children of Scheduled Castes. We request you to please put an end to this injustice and sanction the funds immediately,” she added.

The Chief Minister has not responded to any calls for an appointment yet.

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