Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday formally launched the recently announced Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Post Matric Scheduled Caste Scholarship Scheme, and also virtually laid the foundation stone of Rs 50 crore worth of projects at Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal in Amritsar to mark the Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti.
Participating in the Valmiki Jayanti celebrations here, the Chief Minister also inaugurated a new Ram Tirath ITI, while giving the go-ahead for the establishment of a skill development centre to prepare Dalit students for competitive exams
In addition, he announced an annual holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act in remembrance of the great personality, and said that Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar would organise an annual seminar on Bhagwan Valmiki on the eve of his birth anniversary every year.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister distributed Post Matric SC Scholarship Certificates to students and congratulated the Valmiki Samaj for various schemes launched by the Technical Education and other departments for the Dalit community in the state.
His government was committed to the welfare of the community, he added.
The Chief Minister said the state scholarship scheme would ensure that poor SC students get free higher education, which the government of India had unfairly deprived them of with its abrupt withdrawal of the Central aid of Rs 800 crore to the state.
The Dr B.R. Ambedkar Post Matric SC Scholarship, being launched without any financial contribution from the Centre, will provide 100 per cent fee waiver for the SC students to give them net savings of about Rs 550 crore, he said.
The scheme, which will benefit more than 3,00,000 poor SC students every year, will involve no upfront payment by these students to government and private educational institutions.
The institutes will provide free education to the SC students under the scheme against direct subsidy from the state government, the Chief Minister announced, adding the students will also get monthly stipend to buy books, uniforms, etc.
Giving details of the Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal projects, the Chief Minister said these include a panorama on Maharishi Valmiki (Rs 25-30 crore), facade lights (Rs 10.9 crore), filtration plant in the sarovar (Rs 4.75 crore), furniture (Rs 2 crore) and construction of a ‘parikrama’ (Rs 1.3 crore).
Virtually inaugurating the temporary campus of the ITI at Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal, popularly known as Ram Tirath, Amarinder Singh said the institute will contribute to generating more jobs for youngsters.
Around 90 trainees had so far been admitted to the institute, he announced, adding that the student strength will be raised to 240 by next year when the building will be renovated at a cost of Rs 1.82 crore and machinery worth Rs 3.5 crore will be procured.
The number of courses will also be increased from the current four to nine, he added.