Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday said the state government will renovate 250 ashram schools with modern facilities as he hailed tribals as freedom fighters and protectors of the environment.
Addressing a function at Jawhar in Palghar district via video link to mark World Tribal Day, Shinde said his government was committed to working towards bringing tribals and the working-class people into the mainstream of development.
Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar also addressed the gathering via a video link.
"Tribals share a close relationship with the land and the environment. They have been protecting the rich natural resources, including forests, in the country for ages," the chief minister said, adding they also made considerable contributions to the freedom movement.
He said it is the responsibility of all to bring tribal people into the mainstream of development.
"Keeping this in mind, the government is working to provide them with education, employment, and health facilities. The government has decided to renovate 250 ashram shalas (boarding schools) in the state and transform them into model ashram schools," the chief minister said.
He said the government will implement a scheme to ensure that tribal students get an education in renowned schools and become capable to crack entrance exams for engineering and medical courses and IITs.
To encourage higher education for tribals, 100 students are provided assistance to complete their PHDs, Shinde said.
"In villages where 50 per cent of the population is of tribals, 17 different posts via direct recruitment will be filled from the local tribal population," the CM said.
He told the gathering that forest rights claims of more than 1 lakh tribals were cleared till November-end last year.