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Maharashtra plugs loopholes in tribal welfare schemes 

An ashramshala

Nashik: The tribal development department of Maharashtra state plans to issue Permanent Identity Numbers (PIN) to some 2 million tribal students to track how various state and federal schemes are benefitting them.

An online system already in use to monitor the student’s educational progress will incorporate this number.

D K Panmand, joint commissioner, tribal development commissionerate, said the students get scholarships and incentives for attending schools or taking lessons through village teaching centers called ashramshala.

“Since these students had enrolled for benefits through the online system, they were given identity numbers. The department has decided to turn these same numbers into unique identity numbers to keep track of the development of a particular student,” the official told The Times of India.

The tribal development department has already started the online e-scholarship program that helps students register with the department for a recognized curriculum in an institution. They will then get incentives, while the institution is given the tuition fee. If the student s are in the pre-Secondary School Certificate (SSC) level, they get incentives for going to school after attendances are cleared by the respective headmasters on a quarterly basis.

“All these scholarships and incentive programs have been linked to the student’s bank account and the unique identity number. The student identity number will now be converted into a permanent identity number by the tribal development department,” Panmand said.

Literacy level among tribals is growing and so is awareness about their rights. The current manual system of keeping track of students is cumbersome and time-consuming. “There are instances of antisocial elements creeping into the system and illegally siphoning off the benefits meant for the students by creating duplicate entries. The permanent identity number will ensure that such leakages are stopped,” Panmand said.

He also pointed out that the same number will be quoted in future for a student, whether he/she applies for admission to higher education or scholarships in foreign institutions, or for individual or group beneficiary schemes – in short, anything that has to do with government assistance.